This month, schools across B.C. are kicking off the second annual Canadian Cancer Society tan-free grad challenge. As a tan-free grad leader at Oak Bay High it is my job to educate my classmates about the health risks of tanning, as well as to encourage everyone to love their skin tone.
The fact is no tan is a safe tan. Research shows that any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 can increase a person’s risk of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by 75 per cent. Melanoma is the third most common cancer in women between the ages of 15 and 29. These statistics are scary – why are people still tanning?
I think there are many reasons for this. For one, there are a lot of tanning myths that can lead young people to make poor decisions. For instance, many people believe that indoor tanning is safe or that we need a tan to get vitamin D. Research has proven otherwise, but people still believe tanning is okay.
In addition, today’s youth still feel a lot of peer pressure to look a certain way. It is easy for teens to get so caught up with their image that they ignore the health dangers, or are unaware of them.
I think the B.C. government has a role to play in protecting us by banning indoor tanning for youth under 18. It concerns me that the government is currently considering parental consent over a ban.
I encourage everyone to write to B.C.’s Health Minister Mike de Jong by going to www.cancergameplan.ca and asking the government to follow the lead of Southern Vancouver Island and Nova Scotia by enacting legislation as soon as possible.