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FDA Commissioner's Statement on the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer

TUESDAY, July 29, 2014 -- Each year, thousands of Americans are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to prevent skin cancer is important especially during these hot summer months when many of us spend extra time in the sun.

Over the last few years, the FDA has taken a number of important steps designed to help consumers better understand the harmful effects of exposure from the sun and from indoor tanning.

Today, consumers going to a beach or pool can rely on more accurate information on the labels of all sunscreen products on the market. In 2011, the FDA made changes that help consumers buy and use sunscreen. Consumers now see accurate labels that may include “Broad Spectrum” claims and water resistance claims (how long a sunscreen remains effective while swimming or sweating).

Earlier this year, the agency changed its risk classification for sunlamp products (e.g., tanning beds, tanning booths), imposing increased regulatory controls on these products. The products now must be labeled with boxed warnings stating that they should not be used on anyone younger than 18 years, and specific contraindications and warnings must be included in certain promotional materials for these products.

These were important actions and steps that the FDA hopes will help address the harmful effects of the sun and UV radiation exposure.

  • Spending time in the sun increases a person’s risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. To reduce these risks, the FDA encourages consumers to take an active role in sun safety and understand how to responsibly spend time in the sun. Consumers should use a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 15 or higher in combination with other protective measures. Find more sun safety tips here: The ABCs of sun protection
  • There are risks associated with sunlamp product use. More information can be found here: Indoor Tanning Raises Risk of Melanoma: FDA Strengthens Warnings for Sunlamp Products

Posted: July 2014