Prince Charles Secondary School’s Tanning is Out team: (back row

Creston high school students taking part in Tanning is Out

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The Canadian Cancer Society’s B.C. and Yukon branch is launching its Tanning is Out challenge for the third year in a row with B.C. high schools. The initiative mobilizes student leaders to educate and inform their peers about the dangers of tanning and challenge their classmates to take the pledge to go tan-free and be sun-safe for 2013.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada, and overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning equipment is the major cause. The good news is that skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers.

“There is absolutely no safe way to tan, yet many young people still want to get that bronzed look in order to live up to a certain ideal of beauty,” says Patti King, B.C. and Yukon health promotion team leader. “Youth are particularly vulnerable to the effects of both indoor and outdoor tanning and we need to work together to prevent cancer and save lives.”

According to recent research, 49 per cent of young women and 28 per cent of young men actively try to get a tan from the sun. In addition, 27 per cent of young women between the ages of 16 and 24 use indoor tanning beds in Canada. King says that any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 significantly increases a person’s risk of melanoma.

Lena Makortoff, a Grade 12 student at Prince Charles Secondary School, is excited to be helping to spread the word about the dangers of tanning to her peers.

“I know many people my age still want to tan because they think it improves their appearance,” says Makortoff. “I am hoping that through the Tanning is Out challenge we can work towards changing this trend and fighting back against cancer.”

Over the last two years, the society has been spreading the message that tanning is out in high schools across B.C. through their Tanning is Out challenge. Society health promotion co-ordinators and volunteers are currently working with local high school students on this peer-to-peer based model to educate students about the dangers of both indoor and outdoor tanning. Since 2011, more than 8,000 Grade 12 students have pledged to be tan-free. This year, in high schools where the challenge is taking place, the society is encouraging the entire student body to take the pledge to be tan-free for 2013.

For more information on the Tanning is Out initiative, visit cancergameplan.ca.

—CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY

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