The Canadian Cancer Society reveals the real price of tanning

14 June 2013

Montreal, QC -

A few weeks ago, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) launched a hard-hitting campaign to prevent skin cancer: The real price of tanning is skin damage. The visual used in the campaign shows Miss or Mr. UV’s natural face juxtaposed with their “hidden face.” This striking image is the result of what can be seen with the CCS’s special camera, the UV Photomaton, which shows the real and permanent skin damage caused by UV rays, even if this is not yet visible to the naked eye.

The real price of tanning is skin damage shows all that a young person has to risk with tanning, such as permanent skin damage, premature wrinkles, and finally, a possible cancer. “Nobody wants to pay that price,” says Jacinthe Hovington, Director, Cancer Prevention and Health Promotion, CCS — Quebec Division.

Since April, the CCS has visited about thirty schools (secondary schools, colleges, Cegeps) in Montreal, Quebec, Montérégie, Estrie, and Gatineau to talk to young Quebecers aged between 15 and 24. The provincial tour comes to an end on June 14 at La Ronde, by which time more than 10,000 young people would have tried out the CCS’s UV Photomaton.

On each visit, ambassadors have been showing the blemishes found in damaged skin on half of their body, wearing their Miss or Mr. UV sash, and inviting young people to have their photo taken with the CCS’s mobile UV Photomaton. They have been using the opportunity to convey the CCS’s messages about tanning, UV rays, and cancer.

Young people have also been invited to participate in the Are you Miss or Mr. UV? contest on missuv.ca by filling out a short questionnaire to reveal their UV profile: natural, tanned, or Miss UV. The result helps young people to reconsider their tanning habits. It is also possible for them to share the link to the contest with their friends on Facebook to increase their chances of winning prizes: two iPads, two pairs of sunglasses, and two Sky Venture flight packages for four people.

The key messages of the The real price of tanning is skin damage campaign are:

  • There is no safe way of tanning:
    • Tanning and health do not go together. It’s the opposite. Skin colouration (tanning) is the result of the skin’s defence mechanism to protect against aggressive UV rays.
    • Skin exposed to UV rays is damaged skin. Even if it isn’t always visible to the naked eye, the damage done is permanent and cumulative.
  • To enjoy the summer and keep your skin healthy, protect yourself! To do this, a thick layer of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to protect against UVA and UVB rays, a hat, sunglasses, and clothing to cover the shoulders and back are in order. 
  • Tanning salons are not a safe option. Besides, they have been banned for minors since the Act to prevent skin cancer caused by artificial tanning came into force in February.

Skin cancer – some facts

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada: around 30,000 new cases were diagnosed in Quebec in 2012.
  • Since 1990, the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, has more than doubled in Canada.
  • More than 50% of young people protect themselves very little or not at all during exposure to the sun.
  • The risk of developing a skin cancer is all the higher for a young person who is exposed to UV rays before the age of 25.

“For as long as tanning is associated with beauty and health, young people will continue to get a tan and not protect themselves. The CCS wants to say that it is impossible to expose yourself to the sun and keep your skin healthy at the same time,” says Ms. Hovington.

The real price of tanning is skin damage campaign is an initiative of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Quebec Division in partnership with the Quebec Health and Social Services Ministry.

For 75 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. All these years, we have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research, and support people touched by the disease. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. To know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444