The Province of British Columbia announced March 20 it is banning the use of tanning beds by people under the age of 18.
“After a great deal of consideration of clinical evidence, commissioning a report to provide options and listening to what local governments had to say at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention last year, government has decided to restrict access to tanning beds for young people under the age of 18,” B.C. Health Minister Michael de Jong said.
Local reaction to the government’s decision was muted.
Paul Mott, owner of the tanning salon at Fitness Northwest admitted he hopes the proposed regulation doesn’t go into effect, but said the number of clients under the age of 18 represented only 20 per cent of his business.
“They should let people make their own decisions,” Mott said.
“We’re pretty careful about how often and for how long people tan.”
The statistics, however, show that even moderate use of tanning beds can increase the risk of developing melanoma.
Research has shown that the risk of suffering from melanoma by age 35 increases by 75 per cent for people using indoor tanning beds.
In B.C. an estimated 966 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2012 and of those 150 will die, the BC Cancer agency said. In the region covered by Northern Health, 28 people are expected to develop melanoma and it is estimated six people will die as a result of melanoma.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer as it can spread via the lymph or circulatory systems to internal organs
“Getting a tan might be a popular option among many young people, but research has shown that it can result in potentially deadly skin cancers later in life,” BC Cancer Agency vice-president Andy Coldman said.
Philippe Autier and Peter Boyle, in a review, published in 2008, of available data, found that because skin cells divide rapidly during growth, from childhood to late adolescence, exposure to UV radiation during this time is a critical factor in establishing the mechanisms leading to the development of adult melanoma.
In 2009, the Canadian Cancer Society, estimated the risk of developing melanoma was one in 74 for men and one in 90 for women, compared to the early 1930’s when tanning wasn’t fashionable and the risk of developing melanoma was one in 1,500.
The ban of the use of indoor tanning beds by youth under aged 18, which falls under the Public Health Act, is expected to take effect in the fall of 2012.