1-in-2 Aussies risk ‘accidental’ sun damage: CCF

woman sunbathing

Forget sunbaking, just doing jobs outside the house may result in dangerous sunburns and cancer risk, warns the Cancer Council Foundation (CCF).

Cancer Council and the Australasian College of Dermatologists joined with  National Skin Cancer Action Week this week to remind people about UV radiation reminding people, ‘it all adds up’, whether by accident or attempts to tan, and increases the risk of skin damage and cancer.

Results from Cancer Council’s National Sun Survey, released last weekend (15/11) show more than on summer weekends, 50% of adult sunburn occurs during everyday activities such as gardening and chores around the house, along with passive recreation activities such as reading, enjoying a picnic in the park or having a BBQ.

According to Australia’s Public Health Committee, chair, Craig Sinclair,fewer than 29% of adults become sunburnt during activities at the beach, lake or pool, and fewer than 21% are burnt playing sport or taking part in other active recreation.

“I think people will be surprised by these results,” says Sinclair.

“[But] ‘incidental’ sunburns are catching people out. It may not occur to people that sun protection is just as important whether you are in the backyard, lying in the park or hanging out at the beach.

“After decades of sun protection messages targeting the bronzed Aussie, just 11% of adults are actively trying to get a tan. However, 64% report having tanned skin, which shows that most ultraviolet (UV) damage is unintentional Tackling this trend of incidental UV exposure is our next big challenge.”

Australasian College of Dermatologists’ president, associate professor Chris Baker, stresses skin cancer is like a ‘memory bank’.

“It remembers all the time outdoors unprotected – all the sunburns, tans and solarium visits,”

“Throughout summer, when UV rays hit levels of 3 or above, the skin will be damaged fast if it is not protected. This damage all adds up and increases your long-term risk of skin cancer.”

Associate Professor Baker says skin cancer was by far the most common cancer in Australia, with dermatologists, surgeons and GP’s treating more than 2,000 skin cancers every day.

“The good news about skin cancer is that it can be prevented and, if detected early, can also be successfully treated.

“It’s important to get to know your skin and what looks normal for you. If you notice any changes in size, shape or colour of an existing spot, or the development of a new spot, you should get it checked by a doctor or your dermatologist as soon as possible.”

Sinclair says a combination of sun protection steps was the key to preventing skin cancer.

“Make sure you check the sun protection times each day to find out when the UV levels are 3 or above. During these times: slip on clothing; slop on SPF30 or higher, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen; slap on a broad-brimmed hat; seek shade; and slide on sunglasses.”

Sun protection times are available for locations across Australia via Cancer Council’s app here.


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