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Up-to- date sun safety guidelines now available for Canadians


The Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA), in collaboration with several

organizations across the country, have released a single set of up-to- date guidelines on

sun safety. The guidelines mark the first time in 20 years there has been a nationwide

consensus on how Canadians should best protect themselves from the sun.

The development of the guidelines—published June 6, 2016—was supported by 28

agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario (CCO), the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS),

and the CDA. A committee was convened and set out a national consensus process for

arriving at a final set of public guidelines.

“It is really important that all of our messages to the public align and are rigorously

supported by scientific evidence,” said Dr. Jennifer Beecker, national spokesperson for

the CDA’s Sun Awareness Program, in a press release. “With 28 organizations

developing their own educational materials, there is likely to be variation. This new

document will ensure that all our efforts are consistent.”

“Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer,” said Dr. Beecker, a staff

dermatologist at The Ottawa Hospital. “In spite of this, the incidence of skin cancer

continues to rise. Good, consistent public education is vital to reversing this trend.”

The work was supported by a 2013 review of existing public messages undertaken by the

Ontario Sun Safety Working Group, which was completed in consultation with a

scientific panel. The national steering committee convened by CCO, CCS, and CDA took

the Sun Safety Working Group’s output and revised the content where necessary,

integrating feedback from external reviewers, with a view to increasing usability for

public education.

“Many people do not realize that UV rays from the sun can damage the skin and eyeseven when it’s cloudy,” said Dr. Loraine Marrett, a senior scientist for CCO

The primary recommended protective action statements are as follows: “Enjoy

the sun safely: protect your skin, protect your eyes.”

Key updates to sun safety recommendations:

 Peak times to cover up: Canadians need to be extra careful to protect their skin

between 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. (previously it was between 11 A.M. and 4 P.M.). This is

when the UV index is 3 or more, typically between April and September in


 Clothing is better: cover up as much as possible with tightly woven or UV-

protective labelled clothing. Clothes generally provide better protection than


 Higher SPF: use a sunscreen with a minimum skin protection factor (SPF) of 30

(previously it was SPF 15). Sunscreen should be labelled “broad-spectrum” and

“water resistant.”

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