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Canadian teens unaware about dangers of sun exposure

A large percentage of Canadian teens aged 16 to 17 years old have a lack of awareness about the potential harm that sun exposure can cause to the skin, according to new public opinion research conducted for the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA). The survey was created as part of the 2018 Canadian Sun Awareness Week that ran from May 28 to June 3 this year.

Results showed that only slightly more than one in five (22%) of the survey respondents worry that increased sun exposure will lead to premature aging. Just over half (54%) of the teenaged respondents fear that increased sun exposure could lead to skin cancer. Fear of sunburn, however, was a top concern cited by 65% of the respondents.

Questions for the CDA Sun Awareness Survey were generated and distributed by Ipsos Canada, an independent company that provides market research-related services for various private, government, and non-profit groups. The survey was sent online to a representative sample of 1,051 Canadians aged 16 years and over, between Sept. 5 and 8, 2017.

“After one of Canada’s typical long, cold winters, most teens can’t wait to get out in the sun at the cottage, beach, or by the pool when the weather warms up,” said Dr. Jennifer Beecker, National Chair of the CDA Sun Awareness Working Group in a press release. “Unfortunately, too many kids still underestimate the dangers that the sun poses to their skin.”

The CDA is warning teens to be “sun smart” as they head outside to enjoy the warm weather during their summer vacation.

Dr. Jennifer Beecker. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jennifer Beecker.

“This year’s Sun Awareness Week [hopefully] cut through the aura of invincibility many teens have when it comes to being out in the sun,” added Dr. Beecker. “Canada’s certified dermatologists want young people to understand that taking just a few precautions now is critical to helping avoid serious skin damage–and even melanoma–later in life.”

Along with the week-long campaign, the CDA strongly recommends physicians and parents to remind teenagers to avoid using indoor tanning facilities. The ultraviolet radiation from these lamps causes premature aging and increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. All Canadian provinces have passed legislation prohibiting the use of tanning beds by minors.

Indoor tanning before the age of 35 has been associated with a significant increase in the risk of melanoma diagnosis. Recently, UV tanning beds were moved up to the highest cancer risk category—group 1—‘carcinogenic to humans’ by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. This places UV tanning beds in the same cancer risk group as cigarette smoking.

“We know that many teens and young Canadians—particularly young women—think indoor tanning will help protect their skin from burning in the sun,” said Dr. Beecker. “The fact is that a tan offers very little protection from sunlight or burning, and the dangers of tanning beds can be lethal.”

For information on the incidence and dangers of melanoma that can be provided for patients visit For patient primers on other dermatologic conditions such as atopic dermatitis and onychomycosis visit

Sun Awareness Week

The Canadian Dermatology Association has organized the nation-wide early summer Sun Awareness Week since 1989. The aim is to educate Canadians about the dangers of too much sun and to help stop the rising incidence of skin cancer in Canada.

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