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Over-cooked sun care message keeps Canadians in dark about sun’s benefits

Friday, January 25, 2013
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Joint Canadian Tanning Association Launches Tan Awareness Week

KELOWNA, BC — UV exposure in levels consistent with tanning is natural and intended – a fact that often gets lost in over-trumped sun care messages. That’s why Canadians need to be exposed to the facts and not the myths about sun exposure, says Steve Gilroy, Executive Director of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA). Myth: UV exposure is dangerous, so Canadians should avoid tanning. Fact: Tanning is a natural and intended biologic process. Our bodies are designed to produce melanin, a natural free-radical scavenger and pigment which darkens the skin. By increasing pigmentation, a tan is the natural way to protect your skin from sunburn, for most by up to an SPF of 4. “Every year at this time, Canadians are inundated with messaging about avoiding exposure to the sun. This is wrong.

The message should be to avoid sunburning at all times. Research shows that people who avoid the sun actually sunburn more often when they do go outdoors for holidays,” Gilroy says. Over-cooked sun abstinence messages, at the core, are funded by groups who profit from overstating the risks associated with UV overexposure and who ignore or deny the benefits. “For example, most Canadians don’t know the sun avoidance message is funded by the sunscreen manufacturers who each pay the Canadian Dermatology Association thousands of dollars to have the CDA logo on each sunscreen product sold in Canada,” Gilroy said. “American dermatology groups have come under fire from their peers for exactly the same program. Especially since both groups are promoting over-use of sunscreen, it calls into question the integrity of their sun care advice.” Canadians should be taught to avoid sunburn and to use sunscreen only when sunburn is a possibility, JCTA believes. “Sunscreen can be a good product. But we have to teach Canadians sun care. Not ‘sun scare,’” Gilroy said. – more – – 2 – The JCTA has designated May 18-24 as Tan Awareness Week in Canada. Canadian professional tanning facilities will be teaching sunburn prevention in their communities. JCTA’s belief: Moderate tanning, for individuals who can develop tans, is the smartest way to maximize the benefits of regular UV exposure while minimizing the risks associated with either too much or too little sunlight. Sunburn prevention is the key. Myth: Canadians receive enough sun exposure throughout the year to produce adequate levels of vitamin D. Fact: Canada’s sun-deprived northerly climate means 97% of Canadians are vitamin D deficient during the winter, according to University of Calgary research. “It is obvious from vitamin D research that lack of sunshine is the only likely cause for the near-universal vitamin D deficiency in Canada,” Gilroy said. “It doesn’t make sense to explain it any other way: We do not get enough sunlight. That’s why JCTA teaches sunburn prevention instead of sun avoidance. We are part of the solution.” Myth: Canadians should use sunscreen year-round. Fact: Wearing sunscreen or cosmetics with sunscreen in northern climates most of the year significantly blocks your body’s ability to produce vitamin D. An SPF 8 blocks 92.5% of vitamin D production; an SPF 15 blocks 99% of vitamin D production. “Our country’s northerly latitudes mean most of us are deprived of effective natural sunlight for approximately half the year – a condition recognized as unnatural and problematic. Health Canada has told media it will launch a study by fall 2008 investigating claims that a lack of vitamin D is linked to cancer, heart disease and multiple sclerosis,” Gilroy said. The JCTA wants Canadians – including the 3 million a year who use tanning studios – to know that most people typically need a third to one-half of a session to produce daily vitamin D requirements. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily in the fall and winter while the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends 2,000 IU daily for pregnant and nursing women. A typical full-body tanning session produces 10,000 IUs according to Dr. Reinhold Vieth of Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. – more – – 3 – “Indoor tanning provides a responsible and controlled alternative to sunlight. Almost all indoor tanning equipment emits UVA and UVB light, with about 2%-6 % of output being UVB light which stimulates vitamin D production in the skin. Indoor tanners have 90% higher vitamin D levels as compared to non-tanners,” Gilroy added. Canadians can be exposed to the myths and facts on tanning at: About the JCTA The Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA) is a national non-profit organization created to increase understanding of the professional tanning industry’s scientifically supported position that regular moderate ultraviolet exposure from sunshine or sunbed in a non-burning fashion is part of a responsible lifestyle that recognizes both the inherent benefits and the manageable risks associated with ultraviolet light exposure. # # # For more information, please contact: Steve Gilroy, ATP Executive Director JCTA T: 800.915.0367 C: 250.863.8765 E: