Health community welcomes Skin Cancer Prevention Act as vital law to protect youth

23 March 2015

Edmonton -

The health community is applauding the Alberta government’s decision to introduce legislation that will ban youth under the age of 18 from accessing tanning equipment. This much-anticipated new law will regulate the indoor tanning industry to address the significant cancer risk that tanning beds pose to young people.

“Too many Alberta teens are put at a significantly higher risk of developing melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — by using indoor tanning equipment,” says Sarah Hawkins of the Canadian Cancer Society.  “We applaud the Alberta government for introducing Bill 22 and believe this legislation is an important step to protect youth from the harms of indoor tanning. We encourage the government to pass and proclaim this legislation without delay.”

Research indicates that using indoor tanning equipment during youth increases the risk of melanoma by nearly 60 per cent. Rates of skin cancer are rising, with indoor tanning facilities serving as an increasingly frequent source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. This exposure is a serious problem as one in three 17-year-old girls in Alberta has used indoor tanning equipment. Of those Alberta teens who have tanned indoors, two-thirds report having started before the age of 16.

“UV exposure from indoor tanning causes permanent and irreversible damage to our DNA, which can lead to several forms of skin cancer including melanoma,” explains Calgary dermatologist Dr. Mike Kalisiak. “Melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer that can spread very quickly with devastating consequences.”

“It’s unfortunate that our culture today has an esthetic ideal that equates tanned skin with health and beauty,” says Becky Lynn, a melanoma survivor and mother to three young girls. “Teens face significant pressure to conform to this ideal and it’s naive to think they will actively validate misleading advertizing claims or seek out an independent and balanced perspective on the dangers of indoor tanning.”

Given the overwhelming evidence and precedence for prohibiting youth access to tanning equipment across Canada and globally, the Government of Alberta should make it a priority to pass and proclaim Bill 22 this spring. Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from the harms of indoor tanning.

About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. Make your gift today at cancer.ca.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a member of Indoor Tanning is Out, a coalition of provincial and national health organizations seeking to decrease the incidence of skin cancer caused by tanning bed use in Alberta. Learn more at www.thebigburn.ca.

Sarah Hawkins and Becky Lynn will be available for comment following statements from government today at 3:30 p.m. in the Alberta Legislature Media Room.

For more information, please contact:

Paula Trotter

Communications Coordinator

Phone: 403-541-2339