The nation’s premier cancer research group, oncology society and 20 other organizations recently released a statement calling for state and federal laws to prohibit the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age of 18.
The American Association for Cancer Research announced the initiative on its Cancer Research Catalyst blog, and the AACR posted the statement on its web site. Other organizations in the alliance include the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society of Surgical Oncology and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
“There is clear and compelling scientific evidence that use of tanning devices is associated with an increased incidence of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer,” the statement notes.
It also calls for “educational efforts that effectively communicate the risks of indoor tanning to teens and their parents, and counter-advertising to de-normalize the perceived ‘beauty’ of tanned skin.”
“We now have the knowledge on how to reduce the significant health burden of melanoma through prevention,” said Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D., professor of Surgical Oncology at MD Anderson. “Avoiding indoor tanning and minimizing overexposure to the sun are two ways we can all reduce melanoma risk.”
Fourteen states have enacted under-18 tanning bed prohibition. In 2013, Texas became the fourth.
MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program provided educational information about indoor tanning and cancer risk to Texas legislators and MD Anderson experts served as the primary clinical and research resources on the Texas bill. Working through the Melanoma Moon Shot and the cancer prevention and control platform of the program, MD Anderson has provided expertise in other states as well.
The Moon Shots Program was launched in 2012 to accelerate the conversion of scientific discoveries into new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer.
Melanoma Moon Shot co-leader Gershenwald, platform co-leaders Vice President of Cancer Prevention Ernie Hawk, M.D., Vice President of Governmental Relations Mark Moreno, and platform Executive Director Joxel Garcia, M.D., lead collaborative efforts with other organizations to raise awareness about the significant impact of this evidence-based policy initiative.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December proposed a national ban on the use of indoor tanning facilities by minors. The FDA is receiving public comment on the rule until March 21. A recent story in Texas Medical Center news outlined the issues.
- Gershenwald and Gery Guy Jr., Ph.D., health economist in the Division of Cancer Prevention in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authored an editorial in the January 2016 issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute titled Stemming the Rising Incidence of Melanoma: Calling Prevention to Action.
- In November, the Melanoma Moon Shot and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health co-hosted a summit in Houston that gathered experts from around the country to discuss strategies for skin cancer screening and prevention.