Sun seekers in Nova Scotia urged to seek shade this summer over rising skin cancer rates

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Just like your mom told you to wear a coat in the winter the Canadian Cancer Society will be nagging Nova Scotians to cover up this summer.

(left to right) Scott Freill, Julia Woynar and Aaron MacPherson toss to the ball around in the heat at Rainbow Haven Beach in Dartmouth last summer.

They want to see more sun hats, more sun block, more clothes and more pale skin at the beach – all to prevent skin cancer.

“We want to change the conversation around tanning and go from tan really being the norm to the exception,” said Kelly Cull with the Canadian Cancer Society at a press conference in Halifax on Wednesday to release new cancer statistics.

“This idea that tanned skin is beautiful skin is really a myth that we need to debunk.”

Nova Scotian women have earned the ugly reputation as having highest melanoma rates in Canada, with Nova Scotia men a close second behind Prince Edward Island. It’s expected that 140 women and 150 men will be diagnosed in the province this year.

They’re frustrating statistic as 90 per cent of skin cancers can be prevented by avoided excess sun and tanning beds.

Exactly why Nova Scotians are burning up is unknown, but it could be because we’re exposed to more intense sun during our shorter summer. It could be because of southern-destination holidays, genetics or tanning bed use.

The Sun Safe Coalition was behind the Nova Scotia Tanning Beds Act, restricting usage to people over 19 years old, and now it wants to curtail tanning salon advertising

“There are messages that tanning beds are safe,” said Dr. Peter Green, who says tanning salon advertising needs to change. “(That) people should pursue them before going down south to get a base tan, which we certainly don’t advise. Messages about Vitamin D, so encouraging people to overexpose themselves for that reason.”

It’s expected the new number of skin cancer diagnoses this year will equal the number of the four major cancers combined – lung, breast, colorectal and prostate.

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society, The Sun Safe Coalition

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada Prince Edward Island

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