Indoor tanning devices: AADA testifies before FDA panel on needed classification changes and calls for ban

Indoor tanning devices: AADA testifies before FDA panel on needed classification changes and calls for ban

News and Articles
Mar 27 2010

American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) President and dermatologist William D. James, MD, FAAD, along with other dermatologists and leading researchers today testified before a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel considering changes to the current classification of indoor tanning devices. Currently, the FDA classifies indoor tanning devices as Class 1, the category for items that have minimal potential to cause harm to individuals. Items in Class 1 include adhesive bandages and tongue depressors.

“The AADA urged the FDA to ban indoor tanning devices because they emit ultraviolet radiation that has been shown to cause skin cancer including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” said Dr. James. “Compelling, irrefutable scientific evidence shows that indoor tanning is causing skin cancer in our young people and that is unacceptable,” he said. “At the very least, we encourage the FDA to shift the classification of indoor tanning to one that more closely matches the health risks of these devices and place additional regulations on these harmful devices,” he said.

The AADA supports a ban on the production and sale of indoor tanning equipment for non-medical purposes. However, until this action occurs, the AADA supports shifting the classification of indoor tanning devices to the strongest possible category and placing additional restrictions on indoor tanning to protect the health and safety of Americans. These restrictions include:

1. Prohibiting access to indoor tanning for minors (under 18 years old)

2. Educating all indoor tanning customers about the skin cancer risks and requiring their informed consent

3. Implementing and enforcing labeling recommendations outlined in the Tanning Accountability and Notification (TAN) Act

4. Encouraging enforcement of state regulations

“Dermatologists treat patients with melanoma and other skin cancers every day. We see how disfiguring and deadly skin cancer is,” Dr. James said. “We are committed to protecting the public, especially young people, from the dangers of ultraviolet radiation exposure, which is a preventable cause of skin cancer,” said Dr. James.

During their testimony, dermatologists and researchers provided details about the growing body of scientific evidence that shows UV exposure – from the sun and indoor tanning devices- increases the risk of developing skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Dermatologists are particularly alarmed about the impact of indoor tanning on young women. Melanoma is increasing faster in young women than in young men – and a major difference in behavior is that women are more likely to use indoor tanning beds. Using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases one’s risk for melanoma by 75 percent. Melanoma is now the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old, and is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old. In fact, melanoma is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than in males in the same age group.

“Dermatologists are seeing more and more young women in our offices with advanced cases of skin cancer, and with thicker tumors than previously seen in this age group,” said Dr. James. “These patients often have a history of indoor tanning. What used to be a disease mostly seen in older men is ballooning in young women – the very target audience and number one customer of the indoor tanning industry,” he said.

“The AADA commends the FDA for holding this hearing to consider the latest scientific evidence about indoor tanning devices,” said Dr. James. “It comes at a time when many individuals may be using indoor tanning facilities under the false impression that they should get a ‘base tan’ to protect themselves from sunburn before a spring break vacation, or that indoor tanning is a safe way to obtain vitamin D, as has been falsely claimed by the industry in its advertising and promotion.

Dermatologists hope that the compelling, irrefutable

scientific evidence about the dangers of indoor tanning will persuade the FDA to ban indoor tanning or at least

increase its classification. Ultimately, we hope to discourage all individuals, especially young people, from using indoor tanning altogether.”

The day-long hearing was held before the FDA’s General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel, part of its Medical Devices Advisory Committee. Dr. James submitted written testimony and oral testimony, including citations for the scientific articles upon which his comments were based.

Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. A sister organization to the Academy, the American Academy of Dermatology Association is the resource for government affairs, health policy and practice information for dermatologists, and plays a major role in formulating policies that can enhance the quality of dermatologic care. With a membership of more than 16,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or

Editor’s Note: Full-text copies of the scientific articles upon which Dr. James’s written and oral testimonies were based are available upon request.


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