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Sun Safety
Tanning and Your HealthBurnt Toast


Why is Tanning Dangerous?

Despite popular belief, tanning is unhealthy no matter how it is done. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Even when the tan fades, the damage is still there.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, through tanning bed use or sun exposure, can cause:

  • sunburns
  • eye damage
  • premature aging of the skin (wrinkles, spotting or darkening of the skin)
  • weakening of the immune system
  • skin cancer

Using tanning beds before the age of 35 years can increase your risk of skin cancer by 75% compared to those who do not use tanning beds (Canadian Paediatric Society, 2012).

Tanning and Skin Cancer

Too much UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the main cause of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ontario (Cancer Care Ontario, 2011).

Tanning BedThere are three types of skin cancer:

Melanoma is a less common but highly dangerous form of skin cancer. An estimated 6000 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2013 and 1050 people will die from it (Canadian Cancer Society, 2013). Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common forms of skin cancer in young Ontarians 15-29 years of age and is one of the most preventable (Canadian Cancer Society, 2013).

Melanoma rates in Durham Region and the province have increased in recent years. In the 2005-2009 time period, the melanoma incidence rate in Durham Region was 21% higher than Ontario.

For more information on increasing rates of skin cancer in Durham Region and Ontario click here.

Reduce Your Risk!

The best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to limit your exposure to UV radiation by:

  • Checking the daily UV index before going outdoors and taking precautions when the UV index is 3 or higher (Cancer Care Ontario [CCO], 2011).Tanning Bed
  • Planning outdoor activities before 11 am and/or after 4 pm, if possible, to avoid the sun’s strongest rays (CCO).
  • Finding shade or creating your own.
  • Wearing sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection.
  • Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
  • Using a broad spectrum, waterproof sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours after getting wet or heavy sweating (sunscreen should not be used on babies under 6 months of age).
  • Keep infants under 1 year of age out of direct sunlight.
  • Never using tanning beds! Tanning beds can produce UV radiation up to five times stronger than the mid-day summer sun (Canadian Cancer. Society, 2013)

Tanning and Youth

According to a 2012 IPSOS survey, the use of tanning beds among Ontario students in grades 7-12 (aged 12 to 17) is increasing (IPSOS, 2012).

This same survey also found that:

  • more than 20% of grade 12 student’s use tanning beds to get a tan
  • 24% of youth indoor tanners said that their parent(s) introduced them to tanning beds and more than half of the parents paid for their tanning bed use

Despite the dangers associated with tanning bed use, teens claim they use tanning beds for different reasons.


The 2012 IPSOS survey found that youth use tanning beds for the following main reasons:

  • thinking they look better with a tan (61%)
  • to build a base tan (52%)
  • to be tanned before a vacation (48%) or special occasion (38%)
  • their friends use them (37%)
  • to prolong their existing tan (30%)
  • to relax (26%)
  • that tanning beds/lamps are safer than the sun for getting a tan (18%)
  • tanning bed use increases their vitamin D levels (17%)
  • it’s important to have a year-round tan (13%)
  • using tanning beds/lamps helps prevent some forms of cancer (12%)

 Myths and Facts - Source: IPSOS, 2012

  • MYTH: You look better with a tan (61% of teens believe this)
      • FACT: Tanning causes premature aging (wrinkles, spotting or darkening of the skin).
  • MYTH: Tanning bed use helps you build a base tan (52% of teens believe this).
      • FACT: Tanning bed use does not prevent you from getting a sunburn. A tan is your body’s way of telling you the skin is damaged.
  • MYTH: Tanning beds/lamps are safer than the sun for getting a tan (18% of teens believe this).
      • FACT: There is no safe way to get a tan. Tanned skin is your body’s way of telling you damage has occurred and even when the tan fades, the damage remains (Canadian Cancer Society, 2013).
  • MYTH: Tanning bed use increases your vitamin D levels (17% of teens believe this).
      • FACT: Prolonged sun exposure is not necessary to achieve the daily recommended intake value of vitamin D, provided a healthy diet according to Canada’s Food Guide is followed (Health Canada, 2012).
  • MYTH: It’s important to have a year-round tan (13% of teens believe this).
      • FACT: Tanning beds expose you to harmful UV rays and increase your risk of skin cancer. Use of tanning beds before age 35 can increase a person’s risk of melanoma by 75% (Canadian Paediatric Society, 2012).
  • MYTH: Using tanning beds/lamps helps prevent some forms of cancer.
      • FACT: Too much UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the main cause of skin cancer.

For more information on the IPSOS survey, please click here.


Ontario’s Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Bill 30)

On May 1, 2014, Ontario’s new Skin Cancer Prevention Act came into effect. This Act:

  • Bans youth under 18 from using tanning beds.
  • Bans advertising and marketing of tanning services to youth under 18.
  • Requires tanning bed operators to request identification from anyone who appears under 25 years old.
  • Requires tanning bed operators to post signs about the ban and the health risks of tanning bed use.
  • Requires that all individuals using tanning beds are provided with protective eyewear.
  • Requires that all tanning bed operators provide written notice of their location and business contact information to their local Health Units.
  • Authorizes inspectors to inspect and enforce these requirements.
  • Sets fines for tanning bed operators who fail to comply.
    (Ministry of Health and Long term Care, 2014)

The Skin Cancer Prevention Act protects young people from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds. Using a tanning bed is particularly dangerous for young people. Using tanning beds before age 35 can increase a person’s risk of melanoma by 75% (CDC, 2013).
For more information on Ontario’s new Skin Cancer Prevention Act, please visit ontario.ca/uvrsmart, or call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 1-888-777-9613.

Tanning Bed Posters and Fact Sheets New





Additional Resources

References

Canadian Cancer Society. (2013). Melanoma Statistics. Retrieved October 2013 from www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/skin-melanoma/statistics/?region=on
Canadian Cancer Society. (2013). Tan Free Grad. Retrieved October 2013 from www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/live-well/sun-and-uv/tan-free-grad-on/?region=on
Canadian Cancer Society. (2013). Indoor Tanning. Retrieved October 2013 from www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-is-a-risk-factor/sun-and-uvr-exposure/indoor-tanning/?region=on
Canadian Paediatric Society, (2012). Banning children and youth under the age of 18 years from commercial tanning facilities. Retrieved January 2014 from www.cps.ca/documents/position/tanning-facilities
Cancer Care Ontario. (2011). Cancer Fact: Cost of skin cancer in Ontario will exceed $344 million in 2011. Retrieved October 2013 from www.cancercare.on.ca/cms/one.aspx?portalId=1377&pageId=99509
Environment Canada. (2013). Canadian Daily UV Index Forecast. Retrieved October 2013 from weather.gc.ca/forecast/public_bulletins_e.html?Bulletin=fpcn49.cwao
Health Canada (2012). Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary References. Retrieved October 2013 from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php
IPSOS. (2012). Despite warnings, more youth in Ontario using indoor tanning beds. Retrieved October 2013 from www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5607
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (2014). The Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Tanning Beds), 2013. ontario.ca/uvrsmart
Region of Durham. (2013). Cancer at a Glance. Retrieved October 2013 from www.durham.ca/departments/health/health_statistics/cancerAtAGlance.pdf