Myths about Indoor Tanning Dispelled by Canadian Cancer Society
TORONTO, March 11, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Spring is in the air, along with March Break in many parts of the country. But the Canadian Cancer Society reminds Canadians that if you're thinking of getting a "base tan" by using a tanning bed or sun lamp before going on a sunny holiday, think again.
"There's no safe way to get a tan," says Heather Chappell, Director, Cancer Control Policy, Canadian Cancer Society. "Tanned skin is damaged skin. When your skin changes colour after being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, it's because your skin is trying to protect itself."
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It's also one of the most preventable.
In 2009, 5,000 Canadians were expected to be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and about 940 died from the disease. Melanoma incidence rates are increasing each year. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form of cancer among Canadians, with 75,100 expected cases in 2009 and 270 expected deaths.
"In order to reduce your risk of skin cancer, the Society advises Canadians not to use indoor tanning equipment," says Chappell.
Myths and Facts
The indoor tanning industry has promoted false claims that tanning is safe. Here are the facts:
Myth: There is no conclusive evidence that indoor tanning causes cancer.
Fact: Yes there is. World renowned cancer research experts have determined there is a direct link between using indoor tanning equipment and skin cancer. No studies have proved otherwise. In 2009, the World Health Organization upgraded the classification of UV-emitting devices, including tanning beds, from a probable carcinogen to a known carcinogen - in other words, from something that we think probably causes cancer to something that we know causes cancer.
Myth: Indoor tanning is safe as long as you don't burn
Fact: There is no safe way to get a tan. Any type and amount of exposure to UV rays can be harmful as it is responsible for DNA damage which increases a person's cancer risk. Tanned skin is damaged skin. In fact, any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 has been found to increase the risk of melanoma by 75%.
Myth: A tan protects you from the sun.
Fact: A tan offers almost no protection from sunlight or burning. And some tanning beds can expose you to 5 times more radiation than the sun. Getting a tan from a tanning bed doesn't properly protect you from the sun.
Myth: Visiting the tanning salon is a good way to get my vitamin D.
Fact: Tanning beds are not a safe way to get your vitamin D. It is safer to get it from limited exposure to the sun, supplements and your diet. You don't need a tan to get the benefits of vitamin D. In the fall and winter, a supplement is a much safer and cheaper way to get your vitamin D.
Myth: Having a tan is healthy.
Fact: No, it's not. When your skin colour changes, it's damaged and that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
Because indoor tanning is especially harmful to young people, the Society believes that:
- People under the age of 18 should not be allowed by law to use indoor tanning equipment.
- Indoor tanning advertising aimed at people under the age of 18 should be banned.
To help protect all Canadians from the harm of indoor tanning, the Society also believes that:
- Federal, provincial and territorial governments should regulate the indoor tanning industry by requiring UV equipment to be registered, staff to be licensed and equipment and premises to be inspected regularly.
- UV-emitting devices should be labeled in a way that clearly explains the health risks.
To read more about indoor tanning go to: www.cancer.ca
The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to fightback.ca to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888 939-3333.