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Tanning feels the heat

tanning

It’s become the norm to get a base tan before heading outside—but recent studies indicate tanning is unhealthy. SHYLO THOMPSON PHOTO

As the days get longer and beach season starts to enter the minds of Calgarians, many look for a head start on the sun. Sweetan employee Jess Hosfield said spring is the busiest time for their salon.

“Clients say they just don’t feel good when they’re white and pale. Getting a nice base (tan) gets them excited for summer!”

SAIT Radio, Television and Broadcast News student Haley Jarmain can relate.

“I’ll go every day for a week, then take a couple months off,” said 18 year-old Jarmain. “It’s so warm and relaxing. It’s just a treat, especially in the winter.”

Jarmain is one of many SAIT students using indoor tanning, a trend that extends across the province. In 2006, an Alberta Health Services study found 21 per cent of Albertans had used artificial tanning equipment in the past year. In 2012, a follow-up study found 30 per cent of 17 year-old girls have used indoor tanning before, which isthe highest provincial rate in the country.

Skin-health organizations are looking to change those numbers, starting with a ban on teen tanning. The dermatologist-backed “Indoor Tanning is Out,” is one of many coalitions lobbying for the provincial government to pass the ban. It’s a movement that’s already underway around the world. Australia, Germany, England, France, Scotland and many states in the U.S. have already passed a ban on tanning under the age of 18. Although there has not been a proposal for legislation against teen tanning in Alberta, other provinces have started the trend in Canada. Just last month, B.C. became the first province to ban tanning under the age of 18 something that Alberta Health Services spokesperson Howard May would like to see in Alberta.

“Indoor tanning is not healthy,” said May. “British Columbia’s legislation to ban youth indoor tanning is a step forward that Alberta should be following.”

May also said that it’s not just youths that are at risk from the dangers of indoor tanning. According to Alberta Health Services, using tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases the chances of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, by 75 per cent.

Fabutan Vice-President Mat Rockey said there’s a lot of information that the numbers don’t show.

“There are literally hundreds of different tanning beds available. At Fabutan, we manufacture our own beds to mimic natural light as closely as possible and to make them as safe as possible. We ensure that we do our best to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of too much or too little UV light.”

Business student Kyle Anheller agreed that there may be more to the story. “I don’t tan, but I’d like to see more information behind the research before making a decision.”

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