EDITORIAL: Sun safety

Canadians love the sun so much, it’s killing us.

After being cooped up for months at a time to shelter from the snow and cold and, in the case of southwestern British Columbia, interminable rain, we rejoice at the first days of warm sunshine. By July we’re positively basking in it.

Problem is, we don’t like to cover up and we’re loath to slap on some sticky, oily or runny sun screen to protect our skin.

And that’s leading to an alarming increase in skin cancer, according to a report released last week by the Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The report says there will be about 6,500 new cases of malignant melanoma diagnosed in Canada this year. That’s the deadliest, most insidious form of skin cancer that will kill more than 1,000 Canadians.

Another 76,100 cases of non-melanoma skin cancers will also be diagnosed. Those are less serious and can usually be treated in the doctor’s office.

Unlike many other forms of cancer, the incidence of skin cancer is actually going up rather than down. For men, the incidence rate went up 2% between 1986 and 2010. For women it increased 1.5%. Mortality rates also increased.

Also, the Canadian Cancer Society is worried about risky behaviour of young adults, who are most likely to use tanning beds and who tend to spend the most time in the sun without protecting themselves.

Consider that a single, blistering sunburn before the age of 20 can double a person’s chance of developing melanoma. Thus it’s even more important that young people cover up, wear hats, sun glasses and lip balm and seek shade.

While it might be a little much to ask people to stay indoors, it’s not a big deal to put on that shirt, roll down those sleeves, slap on that hat and slop on that sunscreen. And pay heed to that UV index that’s become a standard feature of most weather forecasts to avoid the sun’s rays when they’re at their most damaging.

-The Burnaby NewsLeader


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