By: Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics
"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) applauds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for proposing today to prohibit the use of tanning beds by children under 18, bringing national policy in line with the 16 states and numerous cities and counties that have passed similar restrictions on tanning bed use by children. There is no safe level of tanning bed use for young people. In its
2011 policy statement on UV radiation exposure, the AAP called for strong policies to eliminate the use of tanning beds by children under 18, and today, the FDA turned AAP policy into action. Children will be safer and healthier for it.
"Exposure to ultraviolent radiation causes
skin cancer, and tanning beds are designed to directly expose the skin to radiation in amounts several times greater than that provided by natural sunlight. In fact, studies show that beginning tanning before age 35 can increase the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, by 75%. Alarmingly, the earlier a teen begins to tan indoors, the more hours of UV exposure he or she will accumulate over a lifetime, increasing the chances of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.
"Despite what we know about the dangers of tanning beds, their use among teenagers continues to rise, with 2014 survey data finding that 17% of adolescents in the United States had artificially tanned at least once in their lifetimes. Tanning is glamorized in the media and has been touted as providing false medical benefits such as safely boosting
vitamin D levels. Tanning salons currently open their doors and promote their services to teenagers under age 18, contributing to a false sense of safety and appeal in artificial tanning.
"The FDA's action today is part of ensuring a safe environment for every child and adolescent, and sends a loud and clear message:
tanning beds are dangerous and should not be used by anyone under age 18. Pediatricians welcome FDA's action and will continue to urge parents and our young patients to protect their skin from ultraviolet radiation and to avoid tanning beds altogether. "