03/05/2013 12:49 EST | Updated 05/05/2013 05:12 EDT

The Big Burn, Alberta Campaign Warns About Health Dangers Of Indoor Tanning Beds

Alberta Health Services

EDMONTON - Alberta is rolling out an information campaign to warn young adults about the health dangers of indoor tanning beds and is considering banning their use by anyone under 18.

A survey released Tuesday suggests half of Alberta women between the ages of 18 and 24 have used a tanning bed, as well as almost one in three men in the same age group.

The campaign's message is that more than 10 tanning bed sessions can double a person's risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

"There is no such thing as tanning in moderation when it comes to indoor tanning," Dr. Laura McLeod, medical officer of health, said in a release.

"A tan is a sign of skin damage, which can lead to skin cancer.

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The Alberta Health Services campaign is to include ads on websites and in movie theatres, bars and restaurants that are popular with young adults.

There is also a website with information about the dangers of indoor tanning.

In 2010, 73 people died from melanoma in Alberta and 534 were diagnosed with the disease.

The survey was conducted for the government health agency by Ipsos Reid in December and January. The poll did not look at the rate of tanning bed use by younger teens and children.

The Canadian Cancer Society says people under the age of 18 should not be allowed by law to use indoor tanning equipment.

Alberta doesn't have such a ban, but Quebec does. Ontario and British Columbia have announced plans for similar laws.

Nova Scotia bans people under 19 from using tanning beds and Manitoba requires written parental consent before anyone under 18 can use them.

Alberta Health spokesman John Muir said the government is looking at what is being done in other jurisdictions and may impose a ban, but there is no timeline for a decision.

"Parents and children should be educating themselves about the dangers associated with artificial tanning," Muir said.

According to the latest Canadian Cancer Society figures, 5,800 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma last year and 970 died from the disease.

Melanoma incidence rates are increasing each year.

Last month Health Canada announced it will soon require that all tanning beds carry warnings about skin cancer.

Canada's proposed tanning bed labels would warn that the devices are "not recommended for use by those under 18 years of age.''

The labels would also read: "Tanning Equipment Can Cause Cancer" and carry a list of other health risks associated with tanning.

The regulation of tanning beds for commercial use falls under provincial jurisdiction.


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