The Myths
Home >  The Myths 
1
THE CANCER INSTITUTE NSW DOES NOT RECOMMEND USE OF SOLARIUMS
Myth: "Solariums are safer"

Using a solarium, sunbed or tanning bed to tan is not any safer than sun tanning. In fact, using a solarium can increase your risk of a melanoma because sunbeds also emit UVA and UVB radiation from above and below your body.

The Australian Standard for Solaria for Cosmetic Purposes restricts solarium operators from advertising their product as being safe, a safer alternative or healthy.

If you choose to use a solarium, know the facts. Solarium operators must provide you with correct information about the risks and ask you to sign a consent form before use. If you are unclear about the risks, or feel uncomfortable with what the operator tells you, it is strongly recommended that you choose not to use the solarium.

Related links:
Skin type
Skin Cancer Risk Quiz

Interesting links:
Clare's experience: www.clareolivermelanomafund.org

World Health Organisation: Artificial tanning sunbeds: risk and guidance: www.who.int/uv/publications/sunbedpubl/en/

2

Myth: "I need lots of sun to get Vitamin D"

We all need Vitamin D for good health and the main source for Australians is the sun. However, the vast majority of us will get all the Vitamin D we need, not by tanning but just going about our normal daily activities while still protecting our skin in the five ways below.

Top tips:

  • For most people sun protection is required when the UV index is above 3 (generally between 10am and 3pm).
  • For moderately fair-skinned people, a walk with arms exposed for 6–7 minutes mid morning or mid afternoon in summer, and with as much bare skin exposed as feasible for 7–40 minutes (depending on latitude) at noon in winter, on most days, should be enough to maintain adequate vitamin D levels in the body.
  • Short bursts of sun (outside peak UV periods) are better for making vitamin D than long periods, as the body can only absorb a set amount at a time.
  • Your body can rely on its stores of vitamin D for 30 to 60 days.
  • Exposing your skin to the sun when the UV Index is above 3 increases your risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Exposing yourself to UV radiation in a solarium is a not an effective way to obtain vitamin D and will damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Look after your bones by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and knowing when to protect your skin.

Protect your skin in five ways

  1. Seek shade – avoid sun exposure during the middle of the day (10am-2pm or 11am-3pm daylight saving time)
  2. Wear protective clothing that covers your skin, including your arms and legs
  3. Wear a broad-brimmed style hat
  4. Wear sunglasses
  5. Apply SPF 30+ broadspectrum, water-resistant sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours
If you do think you are Vitamin D deficient, it is best to speak to your doctor.

Related links:
Vitamin D Fact Sheet
3
Myth: "I'm healthier with a tan"

In a recent Cancer Institute NSW survey, 31% agreed that they feel healthier with a tan.

You may think you feel or look healthier with a tan but once you understand what is happening to your skin, you'll think again.
  • Tanning is skin cells in trauma. In response to UV damage, skin cells produce melanin to protect themselves. However, one damaged cell can start a deadly melanoma growing.

  • TANNING IS SKIN CELLS IN TRAUMA, TRYING TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM CANCERToo much UV exposure can result in structural damage to your skin – in the short term, burning or scarring and in the long term premature ageing or skin cancer.

There's nothing healthy about a tan.

It is best to understand your skin type and protect your body's largest organ.

Related links:
Tanning: skin cells in trauma

Understand the tanning process (see television commercial)

Interesting links:
World Health Organization: Sunbeds, tanning and UV exposure: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs287/en/index.html



4
Myth: "When a melanoma is cut out, it's gone"

One reason melanoma is the most lethal of all skin cancers is because it need only be 1mm deep for cancer cells to burrow into your blood stream or lymphatic system and spread. Once they're circulating around your body they can reappear months or years later – often in your lungs, liver or brain.

EVEN IF A MELANOMA IS CUT OUT, THE CANCER CAN REAPPEAR MONTHS OR YEARS LATER, OFTEN IN YOUR LUNG, LIVER OR BRAIN...
It's important to get melanomas surgically removed early, but preventing a melanoma from occurring in the first place is even more important.

Related links:
What is a melanoma?

Interesting links:
Testimonials
Clare: www.clareolivermelanomafund.org
5

Myth: "Sunscreen's all I need"

The use of sunscreen is just one of the five skin protection measures you should use every day. Look on it as an extra form of protection, not your primary sun protection measure and certainly not your only one:

For sunscreen to be effective it needs to be applied 20 minutes before going out into the sun. A generous amount of sunscreen is needed however many people don’t apply enough. As a guide, about a teaspoon (5ml) is required for each arm, leg, front of body, back of body and half a teaspoon for the face. The average sized adult needs about 7 teaspoons for their whole body (35ml). Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, whether or not the label says to do this. Sunscreen is easily wiped or washed off so reapplying is important. And check the expiry date; most sunscreens will last for two-to-three years.

When you use sunscreen, make sure you:

  • Use a SPF30+ broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen on all areas of exposed skin

  • Apply at least 20minutes before going outdoors

  • Apply generously (thickly) and don't miss areas such as behind the ears and knees

  • Reapply at least every 2 hours, and after swimming. Sunscreen can be wiped off by clothing, water, sand and rubbing

  • Use water resistant sunscreen if you participate in water sports or sweat often.

  • Ensure the sunscreen complies with the current Australian and New Zealand Standard for Sunscreens (AS/NZS2604:1998)



Related links:
Sunscreen Fact Sheet

Interesting links:
There's a range of other websites you may also find useful.
World Health Organization: Sunbeds, tanning and UV exposure
World Health Organization: Solar ultraviolet radiation: Global burden of disease from solar UV radiation
Testimonials: Clare
Australasian College of Dermatologists: A-Z of skin: Sun protection

Back to top Email to a friend  Print this page  Decrease font size  Restore font size  Increase font size
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work and live, and pay our respect to Elders past, present and future.