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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
Indoor tanning remains a public health concern that requires more regulatory coordination and action, finds an insightful viewpoint recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The editorial explains one estimate suggests more than 10 percent of annual skin cancer cases in the U.S. are associated with indoor tanning. The editorial's authors write (and we quote): 'Even if this estimate is high and indoor tanning accounts for only 1%, 3%, or 5% of all skin cancers, then 40,000, 120,000 and 200, 000 annual skin cancer cases, respectively, many be related to indoor tanning' (end of quote).
The editorial's authors note indoor tanning is most common among teens and young adults, especially younger women. The editorial's authors explain melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among young women between ages 15 to 39. The authors find the estimated incidence of skin cancer among this age group is 9.7 per 100,000 women. They write (and we quote): 'The increased incidence of melanoma among young women is partially associated with the high prevalence of indoor tanning in this population' (end of quote).
The editorial's authors add the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies indoor tanning as a human carcinogenic because of the evidence it increases melanoma and other skin cancer risks. The U.S. Surgeon General's office also recently issued a Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer that identified indoor tanning as a public health challenge.
In terms of a national response, the editorial's authors explain the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) recently reclassified indoor tanning beds from a class one to a class two medical device. The authors explain this change hypothetically enables the FDA to classify tanning beds as a potential health risk and intervene prior to marketing. The FDA also now requires labels that warn persons under age 18 about the risks of indoor tanning products.
While new tanning bed products have to inform the FDA of their intent to market, the authors explain the FDA currently reviews a sun lamp or tanning bed only for its equivalence to those already available.
Hence, the authors imply the FDA's revised activities may not go far enough to remove some products from the market or discourage indoor tanning use. For example, the authors encourage the FDA to put a broader regulatory framework in place that includes a national minimum age requirement as well as harsher warning labels.
The editorial's authors add more oversight of indoor tanning might be best handled via new local and state regulatory efforts. The editorial's authors explain universities also could take a more active role in educating students about indoor tanning risks.
The editorial's authors conclude (and we quote): 'State-and local-level change and continued pressure from health professional and advocacy groups may produce comprehensive national policies to prevent and reduce skin cancer caused by indoor tanning comparable with those for other cancer risk behaviors' (end of quote).
Meanwhile, a guide for teens about the dangers of indoor tanning (from the Nemours Foundation) is available in the 'teenagers' section of MedlinePlus.gov's sun exposure health topic page.
The FDA provides specific information about sunlamps and tanning beds also within the 'related issues' section of MedlinePlus.gov's sun exposure health topic page. The rates of indoor tanning by state (from the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention) are available in the 'statistics' section.
MedlinePlus.gov's sun exposure health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about sun exposure as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's sun exposure health topic page type 'sun safety' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'sun exposure (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to skin cancer, and melanoma.
Of course, many of us associate tanning with the summer months and many of the concerns about skin cancer are associated with unsafe sun exposure. However, indoor tanning reminds us that skin cancer prevention is a year round challenge.
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