A number of skin cancer survivors and the Canadian Dermatology Association are encouraging young women to learn the facts about indoor tanning.
The CDA, which has long advocated against indoor tanning use, has launched an Indoor Tanning is Out campaign targeting young women because melanoma has become the third most common form of cancer among that group. And perhaps not coincidentally, that group is mostly likely to patronize tanning salons.
As reported recently by The Canadian Press, “Last year, a working group of the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer classified ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans. Tanning beds and UV radiation were moved into the highest cancer risk category.”
Jackie Connors, a Canadian nurse featured in the campaign, developed melanoma at age 20 after frequenting tanning salons, about three times a week, from the age of 16.
Connors says if she knew then what she knows now, she never would have gone to tanning parlours.
Only one province in Canada, New Brunswick, has a law preventing those under the age of 18 from using tanning equipment. However, groups of dermatologists are working to expand that ban.
Manitoba’s James Bezan, a Conservative MP, is calling for large warning labels on tanning beds and says people under 18 should not be allowed to engage in artificial sun worship.
He says young women who seek a “perfect glow” are putting their lives in jeopardy by joining the trend to tan.
Good for Bezan! There’s no need for teenagers to risk developing skin cancer for the sake of vanity.
Of course, not surprisingly, the indoor tanning industry is fighting back.
Doug McNabb, president of Canada’s Fabutan Sun Tan Studios, has tried to draw a distinction between a correlation and a cause-and-effect relationship. In other words, he maintains that while scientists may have found a correlation between indoor tanning and skin cancer, they haven’t necessarily discovered a cause-and-effect relationship. That kind of hair splitting will not exactly keep young people from developing skin cancer later in life.
If you’re looking for quality advice about avoiding skin cancer, you have a choice. You can rely on the tanning industry or you can look to dermatologists and cancer specialists.
The tanning industry has a vested interest in getting as many people as possible to embrace indoor tanning while the medical establishment is sincerely interested in keeping people from developing cancer.
“Too many Canadians remain unaware of the cancer-causing effect of tanning beds and indoor tanning equipment,” Bezan explains.
He ought to know. His fair-skinned wife, Kelly, was a frequent sun worshipper who – as a youth – spent her winters tanning in her sister’s salon.
Now, in the past seven years, she has been diagnosed twice with malignant melanoma.
Skin cancer isn’t exactly a rare condition in our society. It appears to be diagnosed more and more often these days.
It’s time for mandatory labels warning tanning beds cause cancer and time especially for people under 18 to avoid tanning salons.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.