Media Releases

Canadian Cancer Society Attack on the Tanning Industry an Embarrassment

Friday, January 25, 2013
« Return to Media Releases Mainpage

EDMONTON, April 30 – In what he calls a shocking display of unobjective, unprofessional journalism, the Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA) President Doug McNabb condemned the recent Canadian Cancer Society press release (April 23, 2007) and the media sources who published it and called for the media to provide Canadians with the truth about tanning, sunlight and cancer. “We are not going to take this uncalled for attack on tanning without being heard. Our JCTA members, tanning salons provide a reputable, and a smart way to tan to Canadians. We are tired of the Canadian Cancer Society distorting the facts, insinuating that Canadians have dramatically increasing rising skin cancer rates among young adults when in fact their own data shows that malignant melanoma rates in Ontario have decreased among 15 – 34 year olds” said McNabb. The Youthography Marketing survey quoted and funded by the Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division) and the source for the “alarming” use of sun beds by grade 7 to 12 students said 5.4% of students use sun beds or 50,000 students.

However, given that 65% of students are tanning from the same study you can conclude that 550,000 students are tanning outdoors. Wouldn’t it make more sense to council students on effective sun control and burn prevention for outdoor exposure which may lead to skin cancer vs calling for the regulation of the tanning industry? Health Canada already regulates tanning equipment. Humans need UV light exposure in order to survive, and research shows that Canadians do not get enough sunlight to keep them healthy. According to a University of Calgary study, 97 percent of Canadians are vitamin D deficient at some point in the year – a condition caused primarily by insufficient sun exposure to the skin, courtesy of Canada’s northerly latitutudes. , Sun exposure is the body’s natural and most-reliable way to produce vitamin D. The Joint Canadian Tanning Association promotes responsible sun care habits. The JCTA’s vision is that all Canadians learn to correctly embrace ultraviolet and sunshine as part of a healthy lifestyle – one which acknowledges that moderate ultraviolet light exposure when experienced in a non-burning fashion is the smartest way to maximize the potential benefits of UV light while minimizing the manageable potential risks associated with either too much or too little sunlight. “Public health messages about sunshine — whether attained outdoors or in a professional tanning facility — need to continue to take into account that the benefits of sunshine easily outweigh the manageable risks associated with overexposure,” said JCTA Executive Director Steve Gilroy. “Unfortunately, too many people only consider the risks of overexposure and forget completely about the benefits, because nobody sells or markets sunshine. UV exposure is the most reliable and controlled source of vitamin D Vitamin D – produced naturally when skin is exposed to UVB in sunlight – has been linked to inhibiting or preventing 18 different types of cancer, according to the Vitamin D Council, with hundreds of new studies documenting the nature of this relationship. Fact – Over 90% of all tanning equipment in Canada emit sufficient amounts of Ultra-Violet B to produce optimum levels of vitamin D production. FACT- No more people are dying from skin cancer than in 1985 Statistics on melanoma mortality rates provided by the National Cancer Institute of Canada show that no more Canadians are dying from melanoma today than in 1985. The average male and female mortality rate from melanoma in 1985 was 2.1 per 100,000 (2.6 for males, 1.6 for females). In 2001, which is the last reported, non-estimated year, the rate was again an average of 2.1 per 100,000 people (2.8 for males and 1.4 for females). FACT – Melanoma cases (incidence) have been declining or remained stagnant in younger generations since 1985 The graphs below were obtained from Cancer Care Ontario. They represent melanoma incidence and are broken down into age categories. As increased incidence is only occurring in older age groups, it seems reasonable that our ignorance toward sunburning in the 1960s through the 1990s may have contributed to the increase in incidence. Many Canadians slathered on baby oil and other products to magnify the sun’s rays thus causing sunburn. The fact is that younger Canadians show decline in incidence as it relates to melanoma. Consider that the largest period of growth for the indoor tanning industry was in the mid 1980’s and since that time melanoma incidence among young females in Ontario shows the most significant decline of all age groups. This demographic makes up the majority if indoor tanners. Indoor Tanning May Decrease Cancer Risk, New Study Suggests A new study suggests regular indoor tanning or recreational sun exposure may reduce the risk of malignant lymphoma, placing the cancer among a growing list of internal cancers that could potentially be inhibited by UV light exposure. The population-based case control study of 710 lymphoma patients matched with a control group, published this month in the International Journal of Cancer, was led by the German Cancer Research Center. The study showed that subjects who first used sunbeds more than 10 years ago, had a 40 to 60 per cent reduction in risk for lymphoma — results similar to subjects who took sunny vacations for more than 10 years. A copy of this study is available at Resources Websites Books Solar Power for Optimal Health, Dr. Marc Sorenson, 2006 The UV Advantage, Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., MD., 2003 Contact: Steve Gilroy, Executive Director, Joint Canadian Tanning Association 1-800-915-0367 or website