Ontario youth exposing themselves to harmful artificial tanning

    April 23 - 29 is Cancer Prevention Week

    TORONTO, April 23 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society is alarmed at the
results of a recent survey that shows that many young people in Ontario are
deliberately exposing themselves to dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation
(UVR) by using tanning beds and other forms of artificial tanning equipment.
    The Society commissioned Youthography Marketing to conduct the survey for
its second annual Cancer Prevention Week (April 23-29) to raise awareness of
the danger of UVR over-exposure and the need to regulate the artificial
tanning industry to protect the health of youth.
    The survey found that more than 50,000 Ontario youth are exposing
themselves to dangerous levels of UVR through the use of artificial tanning
equipment. Artificial tanning equipment may expose these young people to UVR
up to five times the strength of the midday summer sun.
    "That so many young people choose to expose themselves to dangerous
levels of ultraviolet radiation is of great concern to us, and shows the
urgency to regulate the tanning industry and ban artificial tanning for people
under the age of 18," says Rowena Pinto, Director, Prevention & Public Issues,
Ontario Division, Canadian Cancer Society. "Scientific evidence shows that
frequent ultraviolet radiation exposure and sunburns before age 18 increase
the risk of developing malignant melanomas later in life. Melanoma is the
second most common form of cancer in Ontarians aged 15 to 34 years."
    The Society supports the World Health Organization recommendation that
people under the age of 18 be prevented from using a tanning bed because of
associated health risks.

    Conducted by Youthography, the survey also found that:

    -   Nearly 65% of students in Grades 7 to 12 are tanning through one
        means or another.
    -   Many young Ontarians use more than one method of tanning but lying in
        the sun is the most common: 57% of female and 47% of male sun bed
        users agree or strongly agree that they use multiple methods of
        achieving a tan.
    -   20% of female and 30% of male tanning bed users agree or strongly
        agree that they rely on tanning beds as their primary means of
        getting tanned.
    -   Significantly more girls (74%) than boys (55%) are tanning.
    -   11% of girls in Grades 11 and 12 use tanning beds.

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Canada, accounting for
one third of all new cancer diagnoses. Sunburns, either from the sun's rays or
from tanning beds and lamps, are linked to the risk of non-melanoma skin
cancers and malignant melanomas.
    The Canadian Cancer Society believes that the responsibility of reducing
cancer risk involves not only individual action but also healthy government
policies that protect the public.
    "Despite the health risks associated with UV radiation, we know tanning
is still an appealing habit for young people," says Jim Watson, Minister of
Health Promotion. "Educating Ontarians about the harmful risks of UV radiation
and informing them of the many options they can use to protect themselves is
an initiative the Ontario government supports."
    The Canadian Cancer Society is committed to educating youth and Ontarians
about the dangers of UV radiation. Following are the Society's recommendations
on how individuals can protect themselves while in the sun:

    -   Reduce exposure to the sun when its rays are most intense between
        11 a.m. and 4 p.m. or when the UV Index is 3 or more.
    -   Enjoy places that include shade, and in open areas such as beaches,
        bring an umbrella to create your own shade.
    -   Slip on light, loose-fitting clothing to cover your arms and legs.
    -   Slap on a wide-brimmed hat that covers your head, face, ears and
        neck. Hats without a wide brim, such as baseball caps, do not give
        enough protection.
    -   Wear sunglasses, they can help prevent damage to your eyes by
        blocking a large amount of ultraviolet rays. Choose sunglasses with
        even shading, medium to dark lenses and UVA and UVB protection.
    -   Slop on a sunscreen with SPF No.15 or higher - if you work outdoors,
        or if you will be outside for most of the day, use SPF No.30. Apply
        sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading out and reapply every
        two hours, more often if you're swimming or sweating.
    -   Keep babies under one year out of the direct sun.

    To view the Youthography survey results or to find out more about UVR
safety, visit www.cancer.ca (Ontario section).

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the quality of
life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer,
visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer
Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For further information:

For further information: Tracy Cobb, Public Relations Director, Venture
Communications: 1-800-665-4927, ext. 204, tracy@openminds.ca

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Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division)

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