The focus of World Cancer Day on Feb. 4 is to dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, making it a significant time to highlight a dangerous myth perpetuated by the tanning industry and in popular culture – the so-called “base tan” for travellers heading for spring break.
Tanning beds can expose you to five times more ultraviolet radiation than the midday summer sun.
Getting a tan from a tanning bed does not protect you from the sun. In fact, a tan from natural or artificial sources offers very limited protection from sunlight or burning — it’s equivalent to an SPF level of only two or three.
The effect of sunburn does go away and a tan does fade, however, the skin has a limited capacity to repair itself and the damage accumulates.
When you expose your skin to UV rays – whether from the sun, tanning beds or sun lamps – you increase your chances of getting skin cancer.
In 2009, the World Health Organization upgraded the classification of UV-emitting devices, such as tanning beds, from a probable carcinogen to a known carcinogen. We know without a doubt that indoor tanning causes cancer.
Research done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that being exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma skin cancer.
That is why the Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the Government of Ontario to protect youth from the dangers of indoor tanning by enacting legislation.
Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common and preventable forms of skin cancer in young Ontarians aged 15 to 29. Countries such as Brazil, Australia and France, as well as four provinces and several municipalities in Canada, have passed indoor tanning laws to protect the health of youth. It’s time Ontario did the same.
Voluntary guidelines and parental consent do not work. A poll commissioned by the Society showed that 80 per cent of Ontarians would support the provincial government enacting legislation that prohibits use of indoor tanning equipment by youth under 18 years of age.
When the provincial government resumes, indoor tanning should be on the agenda.
Learn how you can support the call for action on indoor tanning by visiting www.takeaction.cancer.ca.
Canadian Cancer Society