Think of sun-drenched destinations like the Caribbean or Mexico as skin cancer hotbeds? Think again. Protection against the sun has never been so important to your skin.
Summer has arrived, so pack up those tights, turtlenecks and toques – it’s time for skin to make an appearance. However, somewhere between slipping into a sun dress and lacing up a pair of gladiator sandals, we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror and are reminded of the past winter months we’ve spent covered up. The bronzed skin that we had acquired last summer is now not as much golden marshmallow as it is bleached paper. But attributing a healthy glow to having a tan is no longer a safe bet. Letting loose and soaking up the sun’s warm rays, as we all know, is incredibly harmful to our skin -- even in the few short months of summer that Canada gets.
Some shocking facts: Skin cancer is Canada’s most common form of cancer, and is expected to account for more than 85,000 cases of cancer diagnosed in Canada in 2012. And it’s not just from shedding clothes in the summer. With snow reflecting up to 80 per cent of all UV rays, the idea that our snowy winters somehow protect us is nothing more than a deceiving misnomer.
SUMMER SKIN CARE: KNOW THE FACTS
Melanoma is the rarest and most deadly form of skin cancer, known for its aggressive nature, its resistance to treatment and its growing occurrence in young adults. Despite being regarded as largely preventable – 90 per cent of melanoma cases being a direct result of overexposure to UV light – melanoma continues to report a steady rise in Canada since 1992. It's actually one of few cancers to show this trend.
SUMMER SKIN CARE: DO WE LOVE THE SUN TOO MUCH?
“In Canada, the occurrence of melanoma has more than tripled over the past 30 years and in the past five years alone the incidence of melanoma has grown from 4,600 cases to a projected 5,800 in 2012,” says Annette Cyr, chair of the Melanoma Network of Canada. "We need to stop thinking that a good fry on the beach is the perfect way to escape winter. A tan is almost seen as a symbol of affluence; of having the means to be able to travel somewhere hot."
A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic from January 1, 1970 to December 31, 2009 found that in adults, ages 18 to 39, the incidence of melanoma increased by eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men throughout the study's 39 years. "Melanoma is the second most common cancer in 15 to 34 year olds, and is one of the few cancers to actually affect the young adult demographic," Cyr states. "And yet, we continue to see a sun-worshipping behaviour in our youth. Despite a proven correlation between indoor tanning and skin cancer, there is still a desire to have bronze skin year round.”
Is that spot cancer? Find out on the next page ...