The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants consumers to know about the serious health risks posed by UV radiation in tanning beds.
A recent report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer found tanning beds are more dangerous than previously thought.
One Triangle woman believes they are what led to her fight with the most serious form of skin cancer.
Back in her senior year of high school, Tara Lynn got a part-time job in a gym and worked there through college. She said her job at the gym afforded her a cheaper membership and “unlimited access to tanning.”
She used tanning beds regularly for seven years, and she’s convinced it led to a spot on her neck that her sister first noticed.
“The next time I saw her, she told me, ‘Promise me, promise me you'll go get it checked out.’ And that's a promise that probably saved my life,” Lynn said.
It was early stage melanoma.
Rex Healthcare surgical oncologist Dr. Yale Podnos points to studies that indicate tanning beds increase the risk of cancer by 75 percent.
“We've seen a dramatic increase in skin cancers, particularly melanomas in women under the age of 30,” Podnos said.
Years of exposure to the sun’s UV rays also contribute to skin cancer risk.
“But it's the high intensity bombardments really that one would see in a tanning bed that really make us worry,” Podnos said.
Since Lynn's first melanoma spot was removed five years ago, she recently discovered another one on her back, which Podnos removed.
“It's really scary how fast it happens,” Lynn said.
Now 33 years old, she keeps a close watch for any changes on her skin, comes for regular skin cancer screening and makes sunscreen a daily habit.
Meanwhile, the FDA is reclassifying sun lamps from a "low-risk device" to a "moderate-risk device.” The agency also now requires labeling to include a recommendation designed to warn young people not to use tanning beds or other devices that use these sun lamps.