Tanning a distorted image of beauty

Dear Editor:

I wish that indoor tanning was banned when I was in high school and that I did not have the opportunity to expose my body to something that is known to cause cancer. Unfortunately, I was one of those students who were influenced by the media and the tanning industry promoting a "healthy," tanned image. I bought a tanning membership at a salon close to my high school which promoted discounted grad tanning packages. I tanned at any chance I had, indoors and outdoors.

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Over the years since high school, I have become more aware of the risks I was exposing myself to. As a former tanner and now a health science graduate and a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer, I have become an advocate for indoor tanning legislation. I applaud the B.C. government for supporting increased indoor tanning restrictions; something I wish was in place when I was under 18.

There is no way to tan safely; therefore this legislation is the only option.

Unfortunately, the myth of "building a base tan" is believed by many. A base tan provides at most, an SPF of 2 to 4, offering almost no protection from sunlight or burning. It's the belief of myths like this and claims put forward by the tanning industry that solidifies the argument that those under 18 should not be allowed to tan. What scares me as a former tanner is that indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases one's risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 per cent.

This is a huge step forward towards cancer prevention. I believe indoor tanning is one of those behaviours that people will look back on years from now and wonder why people ever exposed themselves to something known to cause cancer. My hope is that with this ban, the pressure on teens to seek this distorted image of beauty will be greatly reduced.

Alicia Perry North Vancouver

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