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FDA Panel Weighs New Restrictions on Tanning Beds
Date:3/25/2010

"We think the FDA does a pretty good job of regulating the industry. They have regulated the industry for 20-plus years," Overstreet said. "There is a lot of misinformation about the industry," he added.

Overstreet said his association will be testifying at the committee meeting. "We'll address this whole myth about this relationship between melanoma skin cancer and indoor tanning, which is speculative at best," he said.

But last summer, a report from the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer moved tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category -- "carcinogenic to humans." Previously, the agency had classified sunlamps and tanning beds as "probably" carcinogenic, so the move put the devices a notch higher in terms of risk.

"The use of tanning beds can be deleterious to your health and we hope to encourage governments to formulate restrictions and regulations for the use of tanning beds," report coauthor Beatrice Secretan, from the Cancer Monograph Working Group at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, said at the time.

Halpern noted that the use of tanning beds by young girls and women is growing -- as is their incidence of skin cancer. "There is one calculation that as many as a quarter of the melanomas in young women can be attributed directly to tanning bed use," he said.

Another expert agreed.

Dr. Jeffrey C. Salomon, an assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, said: "I never recommend tanning bed usage to my patients. To me, it would be like recommending smoking to a patient.

"UV radiation damages the DNA in the skin and while it may take years for that DNA damage to manifest itself as a skin cancer, it is still a preventable risk, similar to smoking," he added. "And like smoking, we have an obligation as a society to protect our youngest citizens from a known cancer risk by any legal means."


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