Alberta launched a new skin cancer awareness campaign in response to a survey that shows tanning beds are popular among the province’s youth.
About half of the women between the ages of 18 and 24 surveyed had used a tanning bed at least once in their lives, while nearly a quarter reported using one at least once in the past year.
Among men in the same age group, a third reported using a tanning bed once in their lives, and 28 per cent said they used one at least once in the past year.
Alberta’s new campaign will include advertisements online and in movie theatres, restaurants and bars frequented by young adults. The ads will drive people to a website called thebigburn.ca.
"Any use of artificial tanning up to 10 times doubles the rate of melanoma. So we're saying there is no safe usage level," said Dr. Laura McLeod, a medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services.
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne is considering banning youth from using tanning beds, said a ministry spokesman. In 2010, 73 Albertans died from melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Another 534 people were diagnosed with the disease.
Carolyn Kuhn was diagnosed with melanoma three years ago, at the age of 23. She had worked in a tanning salon and liked how time in a tanning bed made her look and feel.
"I used it about three to four times a week," she said.
The diagnosis has changed her life, she said. "I can't be in the sun. I'm scared of the sun, to be honest."
Alberta Health Services recently commissioned the Ipsos Reid survey of 2,300 people. It has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, 19 times out of 20.