The FDA Proposes a Warning on Indoor Tanning

by Lindsay Colameo


Getty ImagesGetty ImagesI have a confession to make. Five years ago, I was studying at the University of Miami, and I was days away from heading home for winter break. I wanted to show off my Florida tan mid-December, but after a few cloudy days tarnished my dreams of arriving home bronzed and glamorous, I foolishly made a trip to a tanning salon. After a devilish eight minutes in what looked like a human microwave, I swore I would never return again. This week, the Food and Drug Administration announced its intention to make the risks of indoor tanning clear to users.

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Study findings on the dangers of tanning beds are endless (users face a whopping 75 percent greater risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, to name just one) but the only warning I remember seeing during my visit was the admonition to keep my eyes closed during the process (accompanied by a sad attempt to get me to purchase those crazy-looking tanning goggles). There was, however, a laminated chart that identified the benefits of vitamin D for the body. In retrospect, I can't believe this place wasn't stamped with a warning like the one on cigarette boxes.

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That may soon change. The newly proposed FDA regulations would require that all indoor tanning bed facilities carry a warning about the risk of cancer and exposure to indoor ultraviolet radiation. The signs would not be on the physical beds themselves but on any promotional materials used and distributed by an indoor-tanning facility, including brochures and websites. The FDA proposal would also prohibit individuals under the age of 18 from using these beds and would require that all beds be submitted for federal review to meet safety and design requirements that limit the time and levels of radiation. This proposal is an effort to curb the rising number of melanoma cases that have surfaced over the last 30 years.

I'm pretty sure a scary warning would have made me think twice about my own session under the lights. I'm hoping it does the same for others.

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