Nov 18, 2020

Sunburn figures spark Cancer Council warning

Sunburn figures spark Cancer Council warning

Many Australians grew up with Sid the Seagull’s Slip, Slop, Slap message on sun protection.

But the Cancer Council says kids of the ’80s and ’90s have worrying sun protection habits, and they are urging them to be more SunSmart this summer.

New data released to mark National Skin Cancer Action Week (November 15-21) shows that one in four people aged 25-44 years are getting sunburnt on summer weekends.

The Cancer Council said results of the 2019 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia) showed that age group also had a penchant for a suntan, with more than four in 10 (43 per cent) saying they like to get a tan, a sign of harmful UV damage.

The study also showed only three in 10 people aged 25-44 spent most of their time in the shade when outdoors on summer weekends.

Furthermore, fewer thought that skin cancer is an important issue in their community (77 per cent), than those in older age groups (86 per cent).

The Cancer Council focused its warning on the 25-44 year age group as the group now likely to be parents of young children. However, 18 to 24-year-olds had a similar high number admitting to being sunburnt on the weekend prior to the survey.

Cancer Council Australia acting chief executive officer Megan Varlow said the Cancer Council had made good progress in protecting kids from the harmful effects of the sun, however attention needed to turn to parents, to remind them to look after themselves too.

To help protect Australians this summer, Cancer Council has launched Still the Same Sun, a campaign designed to remind parents that while a lot has changed since the famous Slip, Slop, Slap jingle was introduced in the ’80s, the dangerous nature of the sun remains an issue.

Ms Varlow said that while many remember Sid the Seagull from their childhoods, it was time to remind them of his important messages.

“Initiatives like Cancer Council’s SunSmart Schools Program are helping to protect children however, we know that as children become teens and move into adulthood, sun protection behaviours are slipping,” she said.

“It’s important that adults remember to not only look after themselves, but also that they are role models for their children, so the way they protect themselves can reinforce good behaviours for the next generation.

“It’s been over a decade since we have seen large-scale national skin cancer prevention messaging like the well-known Slip, Slop, Slap campaign.

“If we want to achieve real change in the sun protection habits of all Australians, significant investment is needed in mass media campaigns to increase awareness about skin cancer risk, sun protection and support Australians to change their behaviour and be SunSmart.”

The group is calling on the Federal Government to invest $10 million annually over the next two years in a skin cancer prevention campaign.

President of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, Associate Professor David Francis, said UV exposure from the sun was the single greatest risk factor for skin cancer – a condition that claimed about 2000 Australians every year.

“Whenever the UV index is three or above, which is the case for a significant proportion of the year throughout Australia, you need to use all five measures of sun protection – slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses,” he said.