WA is to ban tanning beds by 2016
A man lies on a tanning bed as he begins a session at a tanning salon in Shanghai August 1, 2006. Reuters/Nir Elias

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed banning people who are under 18 years old from using tanning beds in a bid to reduce the risk of skin cancer in the United States.

A review of the scientific research published in 2014 suggests that as many as 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the US every year are attributable to tanning beds. Of these, 6,000 cases are of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

While other forms of cancer have shown a decline in recent years, melanoma has continued to rise in the US by about 3 percent for the last two decades. A study published in the BMJ suggests that overall, indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma by 20 percent.

FDA said it would work with the state authorities to enforce the proposed requirements once approved. The FDA proposal has been kept open for public comments for 90 days.

“This is a tremendous advance,” said Dr. Jeffrey E. Gershenwald, a professor of surgery and the medical director of the Melanoma and Skin Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

However, the US Indoor Tanning Association has expressed its unhappiness with the proposal. It said that the industry is “heavily regulated at both the federal and state levels and our customers are well aware of the potential risks of overexposure.”

“We are concerned that the proposed requirements will burden our members with additional unnecessary governmental costs in an already difficult economic climate,” the Association added.

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