Sunscreen use up, protective clothing use down


Australians are still forgetting to take sun protective measures, and many are still getting sunburnt on the weekend

The Cancer Council National Sun Protection Survey shows that the overall proportion of adults using clothing to protect themselves from the sun has dropped 2%, from 19% to 17%, in the last three years.

And the proportion of adults who get sunburnt on the weekend also sits at 17%, or more than 2.7 million adults.

Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists are joining together this National Skin Cancer Action Week (19 – 25 November) to remind Australians how to best protect their skin.  

Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia called for Governments to invest again in skin cancer campaigns to ensure adults remain vigilant about reducing their UV exposure.

“Australia hasn’t had federal funding for a skin cancer prevention campaign since 2007 – this latest data suggests adults are becoming complacent about UV and demonstrates the urgent need for a refreshed national campaign,” she says.

She welcomed the fact that use of sunscreen has increased since the first survey, but warns that sunscreen can’t be relied upon alone.

“We suspect Aussies are slopping on sunscreen while at the same time reducing their use of covering clothing and expecting to be protected all day long.

“Sunscreen is a great tool to help protect your skin, but it isn’t a suit of armour. The motto remains the same: slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide on sunglasses.

“Wearing covering clothing is one of the simplest and effective ways to protect your skin.”

Dr Andrew Miller, President, Australasian College of Dermatologists says that thanks to previous public health campaigns Australians are well educated about the risks of skin cancer, but some parents seem to be more focused on protecting their kids’ skin than using sun protection themselves.

“The theme for this year’s National Skin Cancer Action Week is ‘Join the SunSmart Generation’,” he says.

“We often see Australian parents protecting their children with rashies, hats, sunscreen and shade – while not protecting themselves well.”

Parents need to remember that their own sun protection is vital, he says.

“Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime and it’s never too late to protect their skin from further damage. We want to see more adults setting a good example and joining their children in being SunSmart. The best way for kids to learn about sun protection is to mimic the behaviour of their parents, so we are urging them to heed the message and take appropriate care of themselves as well.

“Melanoma rates in Australians aged 40 and under are dropping and the children of today are our most SunSmart generation ever.

“However, it’s a real concern that sun protection behaviours overall don’t seem to be improving and that over 2.7 million Australians are putting themselves at risk of skin cancer by getting sunburnt on summer weekends.

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