MURFREESBORO, Tenn.— The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would prohibit people under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning beds.
The FDA is proposing the ban to try and limit the amount of ultraviolet light that teenagers below the age of 18 are exposed to. The amount of UV radiation absorbed by your skin adds up over your lifetime, and the FDA says that the earlier the increased radiation starts, the more likely you are to develop skin cancer.
The increase in using indoor tanning lamps, has actually increased the amount of skin cancer to appear in younger women, according to Dr. Ronald “Junior” Nelson at Stones River Dermatology.
“We’re starting to see that cumulative ultraviolet exposure occur in much, much younger patients,” says Nelson. “Particularly in the younger women population.”
Middle Tennessee State University student Alex Hughey has experienced the negative effects UV radiation can have first-hand. She has had to have skin cancer removed from her body three separate times since being a teenager.
“I tan really easily, so when I was going to the tanning bed, I was going one to three times a week. It wasn’t even like I was tanning every day, and it still caused stuff to happen,” explains Hughey.
Hughey also believes that the age restriction could be beneficial so that people are better able to consider the risks before going tanning.
However, the president of Hot Spot Tanning, Lyvonn Reese, is against the proposed rule because she says that UV radiation isn’t all bad. Reese says that there can actually be benefits of UV light in moderation.
“We have a lot of tanners that utilize the UV light for skin disorders,” Reese points out. “It’s just not right to take away the benefits of the UV light away from them just because they’re not 18.”
Some tanners may use the UV light if they are Vitamin D deficient or if they have a skin condition like psoriasis. Reese says that UV light can be used as another form of treatment, and she has personally seen the positive effects that it has on people’s lives.
The rule has not been passed yet, but one thing is for certain: education is crucial when it comes to the risks and benefits of indoor tanning.
The FDA has posted an online forum about the issue, and you can weigh in on the topic here until March 21st.