Tanning Beds Are Riskier Than Tongue Depressors

Did you know that the FDA currently regulates tanning beds in the same medical device class as tongue depressors and bandages?

That’s right – a device that if used before the age of 35 increases one’s likelihood of getting melanoma by 75 percent is classified in the same risk category as your everyday bandage. It goes without saying that this is ludicrous and must be changed.

That’s why American Cancer Society Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Len Lichtenfeld and I sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius late last week calling on HHS to expedite its review of the current tanning bed classification. In the letter, we point out the urgency of the issue given that use of tanning beds greatly increases risk of skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S. In fact, nearly two years have passed since an FDA advisory panel unanimously recommended that the FDA reclassify tanning beds and impose greater control over their manufacture and distribution because of their damaging health effects.

The letter was picked up by Politico and The Hill, and we’re hopeful that the Secretary will act promptly on this matter. Reclassifying how tanning beds are regulated is a crucial step in protecting Americans from the dangers of these deadly devices.


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