Fitness facilities say it’s a matter of choice 

Alberta Health Services has launched a new campaign against the dangers of indoor tanning targeting young male and female Albertans.

Despite medical concerns, workout facilities continue to offer tanning services, as other provincial governments move to restrict it.

Apart from radio ads now being featured, AHS has also commissioned a survey that shows a quarter of Albertans between the ages 18-24 have used indoor tanning services at least once in the last 12 months.

Dr. Laura McLeod, AHS medical officer of health, presented the survey results in a press release Tuesday, March 5, where she shared her personal melanoma survivor experience.Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers and the most common cancer type among young adults. The risk of melanoma increases with use of indoor tanning. 

Photo by Larissa Pinhal 

“There is no such thing as tanning in moderation when it comes to indoor tanning,” said Dr. McLeod. “A tan is a sign of skin damage which can lead to skin cancer.”

According to AHS research, “Ten indoor tanning sessions can double a person’s risk of developing melanoma.”

Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers and the most common cancer type among young adults.

According to the Alberta Cancer Registry, 534 Albertans were diagnosed with the condition in 2010, with 73 dying from the disease.

Tanning still common

But, tanning beds continue to be a common feature at workout facilities such as Goodlife Fitness.

Tracy Matthews, director of member experience of GoodLife Fitness, says the tanning beds are an additional service to all members of a legal age. Matthews explains the position of Goodlife is to provide a place where clients can achieve their fitness and body goals.Goodlife Fitness, like tanning salons, are required to display warnings and follow specific provincial regulations for the use of tanning beds.

Photo by Larissa Pinhal 

“For some, it is a goal of wanting to do it, and if they want to try tanning they can,” Matthews says, adding that she sees the decision to use tanning machines as a matter of personal choice and preference.

Goodlife Fitness, like tanning salons, are required to display warnings and follow specific provincial regulations for the use of tanning beds.

Alberta behind other provinces

However, every other Canadian province has taken further steps to ensure their youth are protected. Bans for using tanning machines for those under 18 have been introduced, as well as the need for medical notes or parental consent —a step that Alberta has yet to take, regardless of their campaign. 

Steven Gilroy, executive director of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association says that the education and awareness of indoor tanning is more important than campaigns or bans.

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“There are risks in everything we do, we need to minimize the risk,” says Gilroy.

Goodlife general manager Alex Bittermann says employees are required to get Smart Tan Canada certification — a resource that trains tanning salons on skin types and the benefits of tanning indoors.

“It teaches us how get the most out of tanning and reach our goals,” Bittermann said, when describing the guidelines of the program.

Matthews says that Goodlife Fitness ensures cleanliness and safety by offering skin assessments and mandatory eyewear.

AHS highlights the ineffectiveness of these precautions on their campaign website TheBigBurn.ca.Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers and the most common cancer type among young adults.

Photo by Larissa Pinhal 

However, Gilroy says his association believes the website “misinforms the public.”

“The BigBurn is not educating the public at all,” says Gilroy adding that, “professional standards are key to any industry, and it’s about doing things responsibly.”

lpinhal@cjournal.ca 

Are you concerned about the risks associated with indoor tanning?