Canadian Cancer Society releases updated sun safety recommendations

TORONTO, June 6, 2016 /CNW/ – Today, the Canadian Cancer Society is releasing updated sun safety recommendations. The updates come following collaboration with national health partners, marking the first time in 20 years that there has been a nationwide consensus on how Canadians should best protect themselves from the sun. The new recommendations coincide with National Sun Awareness Week.

Rates of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, continue to rise in Canada even though it is one of the most preventable cancers. Surveys have shown that Canadians have low awareness of sun safety and poor sun safety behaviours.

"There have been mixed messages on sun safety for years, which is confusing for Canadians," says Robert Nuttall, assistant director of health policy at the Canadian Cancer Society. "Consistent sun safety recommendations are critical to improving sun safety behaviours."

Key updates to sun safety recommendations:

  • Peak times to cover up: Canadians need to be extra careful to protect their skin between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (previously it wasbetween 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.). This is when the UV index is 3 or more, typically between April and September in Canada. 
  • Clothing is better: cover up as much as possible with tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing. Clothes generally provide better protection than sunscreen. 
  • Higher SPF: use a sunscreen with a minimum skin protection factor (SPF) of 30 (previously it was SPF 15). Sunscreen should be labelled "broad-spectrum" and "water resistant."

Don't forget to:

  • Seek shade, like a tree or an awning, or bring your own, such as an umbrella. 
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your head, face, ears, neck and eyes. 
  • Wear close-fitting sunglasses in a wraparound style with full UVA/UVB protection. 
  • Never use indoor tanning beds. 
  • Get your vitamin D from your diet or by taking vitamin supplements rather than through UV ray exposure.

"It's not about avoiding the sun. It's about enjoying the sun safely by protecting your skin and your eyes," says Dr Loraine Marrett, senior scientist at Cancer Care Ontario. "These revised messages will help provide guidance to Canadians on how to protect themselves from the sun to reduce their risk of skin cancer and eye damage." The Canadian Cancer Society encourages Canadians to enjoy the sun safely by protecting their skin and eyes. Our updated sun safety recommendations can be found on our website.

Sylvain's story

Protecting your skin and eyes can help prevent cancer. When Sylvain Poissant was given 3 months to live after a diagnosis of aggressive melanoma, he learned that if he had practised sun safety when he was a lifeguard and played baseball, it might have prevented him from getting cancer at the age of only 27. Ten years and 7 relapses later, Sylvain wants to make sure Canadians understand the importance of protection from the sun's UV rays.

"Had I known just how critical it is to keep my skin and eyes protected in the sun, I would have done everything I could to keep myself from getting skin cancer and battling the disease for now a decade," says Sylvain. "Thanks to research, I'm still alive today. I'm taking it one day at a time and making sure I'm raising funds and doing awareness to youth to avoid having them go through what I had to."

About the new recommendations

The new recommendations are the result of over a year of nationwide consultation and they reflect the most recent evidence on sun safety and UV radiation. The changes were made in consultation with Cancer Care Ontario, the Canadian Dermatology Association and other national and provincial health organizations. This is the first time since 1994 that Canada has achieved a national consensus on sun safety recommendations.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. For more information, visit or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)