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Skin Deep – Uncovering The Truth About Tanning

A tan, whether you get it on the beach or from the tanning beds, is harmful to your health.

Tans are the result of exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning lamps.

Cumulative damage caused by UV radiation, both from the sun and tanning beds, can lead to premature skin aging (wrinkles and brown spots), as well as skin cancer. In fact, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and it’s 90% preventable.

The Canadian Cancer Society has reported that this year an estimated 87,100 new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in Canada and 1,290 Canadians will die of it. Don’t volunteer to be one of them.

Physicians know that tanning beds are not safer than the sun. Doctors urge Nova Scotians to avoid artificial tanning. Tanning beds increase your risk of malignant melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer.

Those who use tanning beds before age 30 have a 75% increase in the risk of developing melanoma.

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that occurs in the cells that produce melanin, when the melanocytes grow uncontrollably and develop into a tumour. Melanoma is most frequently found on the backs of men and on the backs and legs of women. It is the least common, but most serious, type of skin cancer.

Although a family history of melanoma and other skin cancers can increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer, it’s often developed over time as a result of accumulated environmental factors like UV radiation. Excessive exposure to UV from the sun and sun beds plays a leading role in the development of melanoma and is the most preventable cause of this disease.

Experts estimate that about 90% of melanomas are associated with severe UV exposure and sunburns over a lifetime.

The best ways to protect yourself from melanoma is to limit your exposure to UV and avoid sun beds.

With summer officially under-way, here are some tips to help you enjoy the sun while staying safe from its harmful effects:

  1. 1. Don’t lie down for cancer

    Don’t use tanning beds.

  2. 2. Use sunscreen

    Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Use water resistant, sweat resistant or sport sunscreen if you’re involved in activities in water or will perspire. Reapply sunscreen after swimming, toweling or heavy perspiration.

  3. 3. Reduce sun exposure

    Reduce your sun exposure between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the UV index is moderate to high.

  4. 4. Cover up

    Wearing loose-fitting clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses will help keep you cool, comfortable and protect you from the dangers of sun exposure.

  5. 5. What’s your skin telling you?

    Learn the early signs and how to check your own skin, check yourself once a month and consult your doctor if you notice any suspicious spots.

For more information about your skin and skin cancer, visit