Rise in skin cancer sparks tanning spa warning
British Columbia doctors are warning about an alarming rise in skin cancer and they're especially concerned about young people. Skin specialists are also calling for a crackdown on sun tanning parlours, due to the potentially deadly consequences.
When the sun comes out in Vancouver, many people head outside to soak up the sun, because it makes them feel more vibrant and healthy.
But doctors say that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the Canadian Dermatology Association says skin cancer rates are rising in younger populations, especially women.
Two years ago, Brynessa Gradley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma.
"I was getting out of the shower one day and noticed an itch on my leg,'' said Gradley.
"I was 19, I had no family history of skin cancer, I was in peak physical condition, and an elite level athlete,'' she said adding that she was told she was too young and athletic to fit the profile.
Among 15 to 29 year-olds, Melanoma represents seven per cent of new cases in males, and 11 percent in females, making it the third most common cancer in young women.
Still, sitting outside isn't the only way to tan.
But doctors say tanning beds are anything but good. They want to see provinces ban young teens from using them in the first place.
"These are minors and like tobacco legislation it's a place to start with 18 years of age and younger,'' said Dr. Cheryl Rosen of the Canadian Dermatology Association.
"And also it seems that the risk of developing melanoma is greater if you start using tanning parlours at an earlier age
The B.C. Ministry of Healthy Living says it's reviewing the science around tanning beds and will only recommend that salons ask for parental consent before letting teens tan
As for Gradley, she is now cancer free.
"It doesn't matter if you burn or if you tan, every little bit of sun exposure, and using those tanning beds that handful of times increased my risk of getting melanoma,'' she said.
She just hopes other young people will get the message before it's too late.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber