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Tanning Beds Must Carry Warning Labels - Cancer Risk


US and Canadian tanning salons will be posting government-mandated warning labels on tanning beds to restrict minors’ use and advising adults of their cancer risk.

A new US Food and Drug Association (FDA) proposal may soon require all tanning salon operators in the US to post warning labels on their tanning beds. The proposal also comes with more stringent federal regulatory oversight to ensure safety and design requirements, including timers and limits on radiation emitted, are adhered to.

Warning label

The wording they’re proposing would state, “Attention: This sunlamp product should not be used on persons under the age of 18 years.” Not only that, the order would require operators to warn users (18 and over) to undergo regular screening for skin cancer.

Rising skin cancer rates

The alarming rise in rates of melanoma skin cancer—the deadliest form of skin cancer—has prompted the US to look for more stringent rules around the use of tanning beds. The risk of melanoma is 75 percent higher in people who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning.

In 2009, the World Health Organization moved tanning beds into the highest cancer risk category: “carcinogenic to humans,” along with smoking and asbestos.

Tanning can be addictive

Though public awareness of the dangers of tanning beds is growing, their use has also been increasing. This paradoxical phenomenon drove research by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center who found that the brain activity and corresponding blood flow of people using tanning beds is similar to that seen in people addicted to drugs and alcohol.

What’s Canada’s response to the danger?

In Canada, the federal government has recently proposed a labelling requirement similar to the US FDA’s. The warning sign will state, “Not recommended for use by those under 18 years of age” and “Tanning Equipment Can Cause Cancer” along with other health risks.

Several provinces have enacted (or introduced) legislation that places restrictions on the use of tanning beds by people under 18 years of age as well as the requirement to post warning signs about the risks of ultraviolet radiation. Those provinces that have enacted (or introduced) an outright ban by anyone under 18 years of age include

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (under 19)
  • Nova Scotia (under 19)
  • PEI
  • Quebec
  • BC
  • Ontario (legislation introduced)

The province of Manitoba requires parental consent for anyone under the age of 18.

Glow without the risk

There are safer ways to get a glow on. And if only the real thing will do as we head into the summer sunny season, be sure to protect yourself properly from the damaging rays.



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