Federal health officials are proposing a ban on the use of tanning beds for anyone under the age of 18, part of an ongoing government effort to reduce skin cancers linked to the devices.
The Food and Drug Administration proposal would also require tanning bed users to sign consent forms acknowledging the risks of the radiation-emitting devices. Tanning salons and other businesses would have to collect the forms from their customers before their first tanning session and every six months thereafter.
The forms outline the cancer risks of devices.
For years, dermatologists have urged bolder action from the federal government amid rising rates of skin cancer among teens and people in their 20s, particularly women. The group's leading professional group applauded Friday's news.
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"Restricting teens' access to indoor tanning and educating all users about the dangers of tanning devices are critical steps to preventing skin cancer," said Dr Mark Lebwohl, president of the American Academy of Dermatology, in a printed statement.
Twenty three states already have laws banning minors from using indoor tanning equipment.
Sun exposure at a young age
Last year the FDA required tanning beds and sun lamps to carry new warnings advising that they should not be used by anyone under age 18. The FDA has regulated tanning machines for over 30 years, but had previously taken little action to restrict their use.
Read: Many young people at risk of skin cancer
Nearly 74,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are expected to be diagnosed this year, and the disease is expected to cause nearly 10,000 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. While most cases are diagnosed in people in their 40s and 50s, the disease is linked to sun exposure at a young age.
About 1.6 million U.S. teenagers tan indoors each year at more than 33,000 tanning salons, gyms, spas and other facilities that offer sun lamps and tanning beds, according to figures cited by the FDA.
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Image: Sunbed from iStock