New data shows adults and parents getting sloppy with sun protection

Monday 16 November, 2020

To mark the start of National Skin Cancer Action Week (15–21 November) Victorian adults and parents of young children are being encouraged to brush up their sun protection habits as new data shows one in four 25–44 year olds are getting sunburnt on summer weekends.

Results of the 2019 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia™) also showed that in 2019, 25–44 year-olds also had a penchant for a suntan, with more than four in 10 (43%) saying they like to get a tan, a sign of harmful UV damage. Furthermore, only three in 10 (31%) 25–44 year olds spend most of their time in the shade when outdoors on summer weekends.

Head of SunSmart, Heather Walker, said the data showed some very concerning sun protection habits – particularly given many in this age group are parents with young families.

“As Victoria’s Covid-19 restrictions ease, people are spending longer periods outdoors at times when the UV is high or extreme. We all need to be more aware of the risks of UV. This is especially important for parents of young children who are particularly vulnerable to UV exposure.

“Childhood and adolescence are critical periods when UV exposure determines to a large extent the lifetime potential for skin cancer. That’s why it’s so important that those with young families enjoy the sun safely and reinforce good sun protection habits for the next generation” she said.

Each year, to raise awareness of the dangers of UV, Cancer Council and the Australasian College of Dermatologists come together for National Skin Cancer Action Week (15–21 November). This year it has been extended throughout summer, with a campaign that plays on the nostalgia of the famous Slip, Slop, Slap catch-cry from the 80’s – It’s still the same sun.

Ms Walker said the campaign is designed to remind adults that while a lot has changed since the introduction of Sid the Seagull, the danger of UV remains the same.

“The SunSmart messaging is just as important now as it ever was. With 95% of skin cancers resulting from exposure to UV, the risk of skin cancer can be drastically reduced by simply protecting the skin when the UV is 3 and above” she said.

Skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers) accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year. Across the country, it is estimated that approximately 587,000 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2020. In Victoria alone in 2019, over 2,800 Victorians were diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Ms Walker said she hoped the It’s still the same sun campaign would resonate with Victorians and help reduce the risk of such a highly preventable cancer.

SunSmart recommends that Victorians protect their skin in five ways when the UV is 3 and above:

  • Slip on loose protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on SPF30 (or higher), broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every two hours.
  • Slap on a broad-brim, bucket or legionnaire hat that shades the face, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade wherever possible outside.
  • Slide on close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that cover as much of the eye area as possible and meet the Australian Standard.

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