Big Burn busts myths, highlights risks of indoor tanning
28 March 2012
The deadly risks and ugly truths of indoor tanning are at the centre of a new public education campaign to inform teens about the dangers of tanning beds.
A new website, thebigburn.ca, was launched today by Alberta Health Services (AHS), which is supporting the Indoor Tanning Is Out coalition’s efforts to educate young tanners about the many health risks that come with indoor tanning.
It provides clear, factual health information and busts many of the myths that surround indoor tanning. It also highlights health side-effects of tanning beds other than skin cancer, including warts, skin rashes and fecal bacteria.
“Indoor tanning is not healthy,” says Dr. Laura McLeod, AHS Medical Officer of Health.
”Research clearly shows that anyone using tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases their risk of melanoma by 75 per cent.”
“Our website is interactive and fun, but also highlights a very serious issue. We want parents and teens to visit it to learn the truth about indoor tanning and ensure they don’t get burned by misleading information.”
The website was launched at events at malls in Edmonton and Calgary today, timed to coincide with the high school graduation shopping period. Pupils were provided the chance to learn from the experts the truths about indoor tanning and how to achieve a “glow without the burn” through makeup and skin protection. Participants were also provided a glimpse of their future through technology that reveals existing damage to their skin from ultraviolet rays.
Artificial ultraviolet rays, such as those emitted by tanning beds, are known to cause cancer – the World Health Organization has declared them a known human carcinogen. That puts tanning beds in the same category as tobacco, asbestos and arsenic.
Melanoma is the most aggressive and dangerous of all skin cancers. Once you have a skin cancer you have a 20 to 30 per cent increased risk of developing another type of cancer.
About 60 people a year die in Alberta from melanoma and about 472 are diagnosed with the disease. Every single day, three Canadians die of melanoma.
Edmontonian Melany James, who started visiting tanning salons when she was 17 years old, discovered first-hand the devastating effects of sun beds before she had even graduated from high school.
“I wasn’t obsessive about it,” she says. “I was going for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, twice a week.”
A naturally fair-skinned person, James says she was just looking for some extra colour and wasn’t trying to achieve the dark-tanned look at all.
“I’m 99 per cent sure that I got it from the tanning booth,” says James. “That mole was on my breast – skin that had not been exposed to the sun at all.”
“If I could go back I wouldn’t do it,” says James. “I would rather be pale than have had to go through surgery and deal with the fear of cancer for the rest of my life.”
About Indoor Tanning is Out
The Indoor Tanning is Out coalition is advocating for strong legislation that will protect Albertans under the age of 18 from the risks of artificial tanning. The coalition consists of a broad range of health experts from organizations including the Canadian Dermatology Association, Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta Society of Dermatologists, and the Alberta Public Health Association, among others. Alberta Health Services is supporting the coalition’s efforts to raise awareness and educate Albertans about the deadly risks of artificial tanning. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/IndoorTanningIsOut.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.