The Canadian Cancer Society says skin cancer is on the rise in Canada, with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island reporting some of the highest rates of melanoma in the country.

According to the society's annual statistics, women in Nova Scotia and men in P.E.I. have the highest rates of melanoma in Canada.

Men in Nova Scotia are second only to men in P.E.I. for melanoma rates. 

'Orange is a snack, not a skin tone.' - Kelly Cull, Canadian Cancer Society

Dr. Peter Green, speaking at a Canadian Cancer Society news conference Wednesday morning, said Nova Scotians’ bad habits are partially to blame for the results of the study.

Green said some Maritimers’ willingness to expose themselves to concentrated bursts of the sun’s harmful UV rays, and their eagerness to go down south to spend a week in the sunshine under concentrated doses of harmful UV rays, are contributing factors.  

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is also one of the most preventable forms, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Melanoma represents only about 1.4 per cent of all cancer deaths because of the good prognosis resulting from early detection.

  • One in 59 Canadian men will develop the disease in his lifetime
  • One in 240 will die of it  
  • One in 73 women will develop it
  • One in 195 will die from it

The society expects over 80,000 new skin cancer cases in Canada this year — nearly the same number of cases of the top four cancers combined (lung, breast, prostate and colorectal).

"Orange is a snack, not a skin tone," said Kelly Cull of the society's Nova Scotia division. She said they will send teams from the Canadian Cancer Society to beaches and at events this summer with information on skin cancer.

Nova Scotia was one of the first provinces in the country to put restrictions on tanning bed salons, making it illegal for them to offer services to teenagers.

British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and P.E.I. also have tanning bed legislation to help protect young people.

Green said he’s not proposing any further restrictions on tanning bed use but said he does want the industry to look at the way it advertises.

He said he would like salons to stop offering a “healthy tan” and stop advertising that getting a base tan before going south is a good idea.

He also wants salons to make it clear that a little bit of tanning in moderation can be harmful.

Green said these sorts of statements amount to false advertising and those kinds of advertisements need to stop.