Sun Misconceptions: New Study Reveals Ontario Youth are Misguided in their Understanding of Melanoma, Sun Safety and Protection Efforts

With Melanoma on the rise across Canada, Melanoma Network of Canada seeks to expose current knowledge and behaviours to ensure sun safety is practiced amongst the most vulnerable Population.

OAKVILLE, ON, March 26, 2019 /CNW/ – A new study from the Melanoma Network of Canada uncovered that large gaps exist in the understanding of melanoma and impacts of sun exposure on the skin as well as in the knowledge and attitudes towards sun safety and protection efforts in youth aged 15-29.

Two-thirds of Ontario youth (65%) acknowledge that while they know sun safety is important, they don’t always take the appropriate steps to protect themselves. Furthermore, fewer than half report they regularly take steps to protect their skin from the sun, even during the sunny summer months. 

A history of sunburn and tanning is an important risk factor for melanoma and with 59% of survey respondents noting that they have experienced a severe sunburn before, the potential for new incidences of melanoma is jarring.

“It is estimated that 7,600 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, and it is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among youth aged 15-29. Yet it is also one of the most preventable cancers – but only if individuals are practicing proactive, early prevention tactics, said Annette Cyr, Founder & Chair of the Board of the Melanoma Network of Canada and a three-time melanoma survivor. “Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays and regularly checking your skin for signs of melanoma should be part of an overall wellness strategy.”

The survey also revealed that Ontario youth lack confidence in their knowledge about melanoma and how to detect it. Fewer than half (45%) of youth feel confident in their ability to recognize melanoma and only three in ten (30%) check their skin monthly, while 25% do not check their skin at all.

“Improving knowledge of sun safety and melanoma is important to increasing the frequency of sun protection behaviours,” said Dr. Elaine McWhirter, Staff Medical Oncologist at the Juravinski Cancer Centre and Associate Professor at McMaster University. “We need to arm our youth with greater knowledge of sun safety practices, so they themselves can regularly engage in sun safety behaviours.”

According to the survey, which polled respondents across Ontario, Canadian youth are surprisingly mixed in their knowledge of melanoma and sun protection efforts:

  • Misconceptions exist about sun safety among youth
    • Six in ten (60%) believe exposure to the sun is the best way to get vitamin D
    • Half of youth think sunscreen can include ingredients which are harmful to the environment (55%) or their body (49%)
  • Most youth do not regularly apply sunscreen regardless of the season
    • During the sunny summer months, four in ten (39%) report they regularly apply moisturizer/ make-up with SPF in the morning while only one-third (34%) apply sunscreen. Considerably fewer do so in the summer when it is cloudy (31% and 27% respectively) or in the winter months (27% and 17%) even though UV exposure from sun is still a very real risk.
  • Youth are not confident in their knowledge about skin cancer and melanoma and how to detect it
    • 50% of respondents noted they didn’t know that the rates of melanoma were on the rise and 42% weren’t aware that melanoma was the most aggressive (and potentially deadly) form of skin cancer
  • Youth want to learn more about sun safety
    • Seven in ten (69%) want to learn more about how to prevent skin cancer and two-thirds (64%) want to learn more about pre-mature aging.

The Melanoma Network of Canada is committed to educating youth and the general public about sun safety and has developed the Screen MeTM Sun AwareTM camp program in partnership with the Douglas Wright Foundation, a likeminded organization that aims to raise awareness and advocate for early melanoma detection and preventative measures. Together, both organizations collaborate to educate and protect children and teens from skin cancer and melanoma. Launched in 2014, Screen MeTM Sun AwareTM focuses on providing camp councillor training, education materials and resources on the dangers of sun exposure and promotes sun safety behaviors across Ontario.

For more information, please visit

Survey Methodology
From December 17th – December 31st 2018 an online survey of 1,000 randomly selected Canadian youth who are Ipsos Online Panelists was executed by Ipsos Public Affairs. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated credibility interval (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20. The sample was stratified, and weighting applied to ensure the final sample is representative of the actual Ontario population (15-29 years old) by age, gender, and region.

About Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC):
The Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) provides support services, information and programs for individuals whose lives have been changed by melanoma. MNC provides the leading national voice for melanoma patients in Canada for early detection and improved treatment access and works diligently to prevent more Canadians from developing melanoma through public awareness and youth and adult education on sun safety.  For more information, please visit Charitable Registration number: 854913050RR0001

SOURCE Melanoma Network of Canada

For further information: or interview requests, please contact: Ashley Agueci, Melanoma Network of Canada, 416-580-0204,

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