Sun Safety


The leading cause of melanoma is over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources. Overexposure to the sun and other sources of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) are known to cause harm to the skin, eyes and immune system.1 Between 1996 and 2006, Canadians increased their time in the sun without improving protective behaviours.In addition, melanoma incidence rates have been increasing in Canada and are projected to continue to rise.3


Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays – UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles, age spots and worse, potentially skin cancer including melanoma. UVB rays are the primary cause of a sunburn.

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Up to 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds, fog and haze.

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Fresh white snow reflects up to 88% of the sun’s UV rays, almost doubling a person’s UV exposure. Learn more about winter sun safety click here

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Early exposure to tanning beds can increase a person’s chance of developing melanoma by up to 75%.[4] Among those who first used a sunbed before age 35, the risk of melanoma is increased by 59%.[5] Artificial tanning devices emit 15x the amount of UV rays as from sun exposure . WHO, World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer panel have declared ultraviolet radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). For more information on tanning beds click here

According to World Health Organization (WHO) 85.4% of melanomas among Canadian men and women ages 30+ years are attributed to UV radiation exposure.


Are you at risk for skin cancer?

My Cancer IQ risk assessment

Sun Safety Myths

Tackling the sunscreen-related concerns we’ve seen pop up on health blogs recently.

Tanning Beds are Dangerous

In 2009, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified exposure to UV-emitting tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans.


  1. World Health Organization. Health effects of UV radiation [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2013 Jun 17]. Available from:
  2. The Ontario Sun Safety Working Group. Sun exposure and protective behaviours in Ontario: an Ontario report based on the 2006 Second National Sun Survey. Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division); 2010.
  3. Canadian Cancer Society’s Steering Committee. Canadian cancer statistics 2013. Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; 2013.
  4. Zhang M, Qureshi AA, Geller AC, Frazier L, Hunter DJ, Han J. Use of tanning beds and incidence of skin cancer. J Clin Oncol 2012;30(14):1588-93.
  5. Boniol M, Autier P, Boyle P, Gandini S. Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 12;345:e4757.
  1. International Agency For Research On Cancer. IARC monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Volume 100D. A review of human carcinogens. Part D: Radiation. Lyon: IARC Press; 2012.
  2. World Health Organization. Sunbeds, tanning and UV exposure [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2013 Sep 13]. Available from:
  3. World Health Organization. Artificial tanning sunbeds: risk and guidance [Internet]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003. Available from: