Cancer control groups hope photos will shock young people into using protection

04 September 2012

Regina -

Health groups are hoping a photographic image will be enough to convince young adults to protect their skin from the sun, and avoid using indoor tanning beds.  SunSmart Saskatchewan which includes the Canadian Cancer Society and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are hosting a demonstration clinic at the province’s two universities to show students the damage UV rays have caused to their skin. “A picture speaks a thousand words”, said Sanela Begic, cancer control coordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society, “You can talk till you’re blue in the face about the increased risk of skin cancer from tanning but show someone a picture of the actual damage and the message hits home.”

Students will be able to have their picture taken with a special camera that uses Ultra Violet (UV) reflectance technology to detect damage below the skin’s surface, often invisible to the naked eye.   Excess UV exposure shows up on the picture as uneven, patchy dark spots and rough lined skin texture – the type of damage which increases a person’s risk of skin cancer.  A healthcare professional will be available on-site to interpret the results and recommend ways to avoid future damage as well as reverse the damage already done.

“It’s our intent that these photographs will convince young people to use sunscreen and avoid tanning beds.  Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Saskatchewan, and is almost entirely preventable,” said Dr. Maurice Hennink , the chairperson of SunSmart. 

According to the 2006 Second National Sun Survey, Saskatchewan residents are more likely than other Canadians to use artificial tanning equipment such as a tanning bed.  International experts have linked the use of tanning to beds to skin cancer, including the most deadly form known as melanoma. A 2012 expert review of current evidence published in the British Medical Journal shows that people who first started using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 have an 87% increased risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

 Melanoma is one of the most common cancers among young people aged 15-29 and is on the rise in Canada.  In 2009 there were 165 new cases of melanoma in Saskatchewan and more than 2950 cases of non-melanoma. 

Clinic Locations:

September 5 – University of Regina – Riddell Centre

10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

September 6 – University of Saskatchewan – Arts Tunnel

10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

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For more information, please contact:

Donna Pasiechnik

Manager, Tobacco Control, Media & Government Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Saskatchewan Division

Phone: 306-790-9871