New SunSmart campaign urges men to give complacency the Slip, Slop, Slap

Thursday 21 January, 2021

Twice as many men die from skin cancer than women

A new SunSmart campaign targeting men was unveiled today off the back of a study showing men are complacent about sun protection – despite knowing the dangers of sun exposure and the higher death rate from skin cancer compared to women.

Results of the 2019 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia™) found 79% of men surveyed agreed that if they regularly protect themselves from the sun, they can avoid skin cancer. 71% of men were aware that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills more men than women each year.

However, less than half agreed that sun protection was part of their daily routine (49%) and less than one in three used sunscreen (29%) and stayed in the shade (30%) on summer weekends.

Supporting data from the Victorian Cancer Registry reported 2,841 melanomas were diagnosed in 2019 with 57% of those in men (1633). Alarmingly, twice as many men than women died from the disease in the same year.

The results have prompted the launch of a new SunSmart campaign targeting men – Same goes for you. Funded by the Victorian Government, the campaign provides an important reminder of the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and how easy it is to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

The multichannel campaign shows a dad protecting household items he cares about such as the car, deck and barbeque from harmful UV. His young son then points out the irony that he’s forgotten to protect his own skin.

The key message is, if you cover something it lasts longer. The rule applies to your possessions and it also applies to your skin – at any age.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention Division at Cancer Council Victoria, said with such high rates of skin cancer, the importance of the campaign can’t be understated.

“Men simply can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to sun protection and are at higher risk because they typically spend more time outdoors than women. 95% of skin cancers are caused by UV exposure which adds up over time to increase the risk”.

Mr Sinclair said the campaign was designed to be relatable for men and to help them see how ironic it is to protect your children and your ‘stuff’ from damaging effects of UV but not your own skin. In particular, he hopes the message that it’s never too late to protect your skin stands out. “Many men may not realise that sun protection is critical at any age, even if you think the damage was done early on in life. The risk of skin cancer being realised can be significantly reduced by protecting your skin at any age,” Mr Sinclair said.

Minister for Health, The Hon. Martin Foley, said the Victorian Government investment in Same goes for you was vital in helping prevent skin cancer for Victorian men.

“Skin cancer is highly prevalent and can be very harmful, but it’s also largely preventable. Given most skin cancers can be avoided by using good sun protection, it’s critical the public are reminded of how to reduce their risk, particularly as more people are socialising outdoors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Minister Foley said.

SunSmart ambassador Catherine Andrews said the campaign was also a reminder of how our sun protection attitudes and behaviours as adults impacts those around us.

“The high number of deaths in men from melanoma in shocking, but that’s why being SunSmart is a big part of who I am. I’m the one at picnics and catch-ups constantly asking family and friends when they last applied sunscreen, looking for the shade and fetching hats and sunglasses. I must be pretty annoying, but it’s worth it to protect the men I love.

“I support this new campaign 100% – it’s on all of us to shift our thinking and make sun protection our priority and the new normal, for ourselves and every generation that follows,” Mrs Andrews said.

The SunSmart Same goes for you campaign will run from January 24th through to the start of March.

SunSmart recommends protecting 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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About the survey

The Life in Australia™ 2019 Summer Sun Protection Survey was carried out by the Social Research Centre on the January 2019 wave of Australia’s first and only probability-based online panel, Life in Australia™. In total, 2,154 respondents, representing Australian adults aged 18 years and over, completed the survey. All tables show survey estimates that are weighted to Australian population benchmarks. All models adjusted for age, gender and skin sensitivity. Bold face font indicates statistically significant difference (p<0.05) compared to women.

Attitudes towards sun protection among Australian adults (% agree)

  Men (n=1008) Women (n=1088)
If I regularly protect myself from the sun, I can avoid skin cancer 78.6% 71.6%
Sun protection is part of my daily routine at this time of year 49.0% 59.0%

% agree includes responses to ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ to each statement.

Prevalence of sun protection knowledge among adults (% correct)

  Men (n=1008) Women (n=1088)
Melanoma kills more men than women (true) 70.6% 63.6%

Prevalence of weekend sun protection behaviours among adults by gender

  Men (n=1005) Women (n=1091)
Stayed mostly in the shade 30.4% 41.0%
Used sunscreen (SPF30+) 28.6% 46.5%
Outdoors > 15mins 74.0% 63.9%

Sun protection behaviours reported among respondents outdoors during peak UVR hours on the weekend.

About the campaign

Funded by the Victorian Government, the Save your skin campaign will air on Victorian televisions from Sunday 24th January for six weeks. The campaign will be supported by digital media, radio and outdoor advertising and is part of a $4 million commitment by the Victorian Government to deliver SunSmart public education campaigns. This initiative forms part of the Government’s ambitious Victorian Cancer Plan 2020–24 which sets out a target to halve the proportion of Victorians diagnosed with preventable cancers by 2040.

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