This past Saturday, Wiarton Willie, Ontario's weather-predicting groundhog, emerged from his burrow and saw his shadow. For shivering, snowed-in Ontarians, that tradition means we can expect another month and a half of winter. After yesterday's heavy snow storm, it seems his forecast was right. Along with the icy conditions during the holiday season that prompted numerous flight cancellations, booming frost quakes due to the deep freeze and the sweeping Polar Vortex we recently endured, this frosty forecast is unpleasant news for most of us.

For summer lovers, this means another while before acquiring that sought-after tan associated with lying out in the sun for hours. This long wait until summer and the well-known harmful effects of the sun's rays prompt people to seek alternative sources of bronzing. These other options, however, pose some serious health risks, so be weary when looking for a new source of that orange golden glow.

Self-tanning lotions and sprays are popular, accessible choices for those looking for a quick way to look as though they've just returned from a tropical vacation. Some of the sunless tanning products, however, include chemical dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which has been linked to cancer as well as genetic alterations. Tanning beds have also been associated with an increase in malignant melanoma, skin ageing, eye diseases and a compromised immune system. Another, lesser-known tanning trend that carries severe health risks is the injectable tan.

Known also as the Tan Jab or Barbie Drug, the unregulated injection of Melanotan II produces increased skin pigmentation when injected in to the body. Unlicensed and illegal to sell, the chemical can be found for sale online or through tanning centers and salons and fetches a price tag of about $40 for 10mg of the chemical powder, which is then mixed with water before injecting. Proponents of the injection claim that it offers an even and more natural looking tan than what they'd get by applying a fake tan lotion or spray, and supposedly lasts longer as well.

The tanning drug was initially popular in Australia and the UK, where it was offered in pill form or as a nasal spray. Due to its libido-increasing effects, it grew peripherally in both locations as a party drug. As the skin darkening property became more sought after, the injection form became the go-to method of consumption and the trend has more recently been seen here in Canada.

Side effects related to the injection include nausea, loss of appetite and increased prominence of moles. Stomach, kidney, eye and heart problems have also been linked to this quick-fix. The major danger, however, is the lack of regulation surrounding its production, meaning there's a risk of it containing bacteria, heavy metals or other unwanted substances. The Canadian Cancer Society as well as the FDA have issued warnings, recommending that these products should be avoided. Yikes!

Not sure about you, but I know the only product I'll be reaching for this summer is my sunscreen.

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