The Food and Drug Administration will hold a public hearing Thursday to examine recent scientific findings and talk about potential new regulatory controls for tanning beds and lamps.
A study conducted by the World Health Organization showed that using tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer,as well as the fastest growing type of cancer in the Unites States and the world,according to the Melanoma Research Foundation. The majority of melanoma is caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation,which comes from sunlight and tanning beds.
WHO recently reclassified tanning beds and lamps as “carcinogenic to humans,” placing them in the same category as arsenic,mustard gas and cigarettes.
Tanning beds are considered a Class I medical device in the United States,along with bandages and tongue depressors. Tanning devices are occasionally used to help people with vitamin D deficiencies.
“We believe it should be bumped to at least a Class II device,and there should be restrictions that would prohibit the use of tanning beds by people under the age of 18,” said Timothy Turnham,executive director for the Melanoma Research Foundation.
Turnham also suggested that anyone who uses a tanning bed should be required to sign a consent form.
“We want people to understand the risks,the same way they do with cigarettes,” he said during a House briefing Wednesday.
Erin O'Connor,Miss Illinois 2009,shared the story of her mother's 2006 death from melanoma at age 50.
“Skin cancer is a slow and painful way to die,” O'Connor,21,said through tears at Wednesday's briefing.
By the time she finished her story,there was hardly a dry eye in the room.
Neither O'Connor nor her mother ever used a tanning bed. O'Connor prefers to use self-tanning lotions and spray tans to help her achieve her glow.
“Why would you want to do something that would prematurely age your skin and cause you to look old or leathery?” she asked.
She has convinced many other pageant participants to ditch tanning beds and lamps for lotions.
“We need to adjust what we think is healthy and beautiful if we want to make a change,” she said.
Warning labels for sunbeds will also be discussed at Thursday's hearing.
Consumer research conducted by the FDA in 2008 found that tanning bed warning labels are too long and often ignored. The research suggested that brief and direct wording would send a stronger message. In addition,the label should be placed away from other labels on the machine.
In January,Rep. Carolyn Maloney,D-N.Y.,introduced the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act of 2010. The bill would prompt reclassification of tanning beds,call for new labels and issue more rigorous limits on the amount of UV radiation in tanning lamps and the amount of time that could be spent under them.
A new 10 percent tax on customers who use tanning beds is included in the health care law that President Barack Obama signed Tuesday. The tax is projected to generate $2.7 billion over the next 10 years.