In taking the action, the FDA cites data from the American Academy of Dermatology showing a 75% increase risk of developing melanoma, "the deadliest type of skin cancer," among persons exposed to ultraviolet radiation produced by indoor tanning beds.
According to the FDA, the risk of skin cancer increases with each tanning session.
"Using indoor tanning beds can damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. in a press release. "The FDA's proposed changes will help address some of the risks associated with sunlamp products and provide consumers with clear and consistent information."
If enacted, the order would reclassify sunlamps and tanning beds from "low risk" devices to "moderate risk" devices.
Makers of devices classified as moderate risk by the FDA are required to submit pre-market notifications proving to that the product meets design and performance standards, and displays a comprehensive label advising consumers of the risks involved in using the device.
While the order would not ban the use of tanning beds or sunlamp products by persons under the age of 18, it would require clearly labeled warning them of the potential consequences.
In addition, the label would have to include a warning that all frequent users of sunlamp products should be regularly screened for skin cancer.
The FDA's proposed order, as well as its warning that minors refrain from indoor tanning, has been supported by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Medical Association and other cancer research organizations.
"There is increasing evidence that tanning in childhood to early adult life increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma," said FDA dermatologist Markham Luke, M.D., in a press release.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indoor tanning has been linked to skin cancers including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and cancers of the eye. Persons who begin tanning younger than age 35, says the CDC, face a 75% higher risk of melanoma.