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Skip the base tan, just head outdoors

Now that spring is finally here, Tennessee readers of all ages might be trying to jumpstart their tans by visiting the local tanning salon. Teenagers might want a base tan before heading outdoors for the weekend. However, a recent proposal by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might discourage such tactics.

The agency wants indoor tanning beds to display highly visible warning labels, cautioning against use if under the age of 18 and the risk of personal injury. The warnings would also advise regular tanners to undergo periodic skin cancer screenings. Under current regulations, tanning beds are not required to obtain FDA approval before going on the market, nor are warning labels required. The FDA’s proposal will be opened to public comment for a 90-day period, after which the agency will promulgate a final ruling in regards to this potentially dangerous product.

The agency’s proposal might have been motivated by a recent statistic, which found that melanoma is the second highest type of invasive cancer among teenagers and young professionals in their twenties. Agency officials might also believe that more action is needed to counteract misconceptions about the safety of tanning beds. Salon owners themselves might perpetuate that misinformation to customers. A study found that almost half of tanning owners denied any health risks associated with tanning beds.

What is disturbing about this story is that property or business owners are expected to take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of their patrons or other invited guests. Fortunately, melanoma may be curable if treated early. Although researchers estimate that there will be more than 76,600 new cases of this type of skin cancer in 2013, only 9,480 are expected to die from it.

Source: medpagetoday.com, “FDA: Tanning Beds Need Cancer Warning Label,” John Gever, May 7, 2013

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