WAYS TO GET INVOLVED: LEARNING ABOUT DANGERS OF INDOOR TANNING INSPIRES YOUNG WOMAN TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT OTHERS
 
Jenna Gaube

 

Jenna Gaube was in high school when she started using tanning beds to achieve a healthy glow, against her parents’ wishes.

She did not associate indoor tanning with skin cancer.

She does now. And has since the spring of 2010, while working on a university-class assignment on indoor tanning.

“I had no intentions of quitting, but I thought I would do a little research,” says Jenna, who was 23 and a "very active indoor tanner". She worked part time at a tanning salon and tanned before winter vacations.

"Who knew this research would change my attitudes, beliefs and direction in life.”

Learning the facts about indoor tanning and skin cancer

While researching indoor tanning, Jenna learned that skin cancer rates are increasing, and that more than 80,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.

She found out that melanoma is the most aggressive and dangerous type of skin cancer and one of the most common cancers among young adults aged 15-29.

Jenna read that the risk of melanoma increases by 75% when people use indoor tanning beds before they're 35.

“This information scared me a lot,” Jenna says. “The first thing that I thought of was ‘can this information honestly be truthful?’ and ‘if indoor tanning is this bad for me, why have there not been people trying to stop young girls and guys from using indoor tanning beds?’. I was stunned by the fact that as a youth, I could purchase tanning minutes even if it was dangerous for my health.”

A cancer control coordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society confirmed the information.

The cancer control coordinator also told Jenna that the Canadian Cancer Society was taking steps to educate people about the dangers of indoor tanning and to advocate for change.

Fighting back against indoor tanning and skin cancer

“Right then and there, I knew I needed to be a part of this and help the CCS,” says Jenna, who began volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society. “Other youth needed to know the truth about indoor tanning and I wanted to help.

“What really bothers me is that tanning salons continued to tell me that I was getting a healthy dose of vitamin D, and that I needed a base tan to protect myself from burning. They also mentioned that it was important to have a base tan before going away on a hot holiday – all myths."

Myths that Jenna wanted to work with the Canadian Cancer Society to correct.

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“When I was in high school, I associated self-induced cancer with lung cancer and that was the reason why I decided not to smoke cigarettes. I never imagined that indoor tanning would have such negative side effects to our bodies. In high school, I did not associate indoor tanning with skin cancer.”

Recently, Jenna encouraged Relay For Life participants to sign the Canadian Cancer Society petition asking the Saskatchewan government to prohibit the sale of indoor tanning services to people under the age of 18.

“Minors need to be protected from using indoor tanning equipment,” Jenna says. “By signing the petition, we can be that ‘someone.’ We can help save lives by advocating for change.”

Saskatchewan lags behind other provinces, such as Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Quebec, in protecting youth from the dangers of indoor tanning.

“Where is our protection?” Jenna asks.

About tanning beds and UV rays

  • Studies show that some tanning beds expose you to 5 times more radiation than the sun.
  • The World Health Organization upgraded the classification of UV-emitting devices, such as tanning beds, from a probable carcinogen to a known carcinogen. In other words, tanning beds are no longer something we think probably causes cancer – we know they cause cancer.
  • Research done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that using tanning beds before you're 35 increases your risk of melanoma by 75%.

Fighting for public policy to protect young people from the dangers of indoor tanning

The Canadian Cancer Society will be asking the Saskatchewan government to:

  • Prohibit youth under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning equipment.
  • Ensure the health risks associated with tanning beds are displayed prominently and in clear view of clients at indoor tanning facilities.
  • Maintain a registry or licensing system of indoor tanning equipment in Saskatchewan, with fees put towards enforcement.

Contact Donna Ziegler, Director, Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan, at dziegler@sk.cancer.ca to find out how you can let local and provincial government representatives know that you support the Society's recommendations.

Published Friday, June 22, 2012
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