The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the major cause of skin cancer. UV damage also causes sunburn, tanning, premature ageing and eye damage. The good news is you can prevent damage – and skin cancer – by being SunSmart.
Australians shouldn’t expose themselves to potentially harmful UV to get more vitamin D. Evidence suggests that prolonged sun exposure doesn’t cause vitamin D levels to increase further but it does increase your risk of developing skin cancer. When UV levels are 3 or higher, most Australians get enough vitamin D with just a few minutes of sun exposure while doing everyday tasks.
Cancer Council’s 5 ways to stay Sun Smart this summer on the coast
1. Slip on covering clothing
Choose clothing that covers as much skin as possible, for example, collared shirts with long sleeves. Some clothing may carry an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), which is a guarantee of how much UV protection a fabric provides.
2. Slop on SPF 30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go outside. The average-sized adult will need a teaspoon of sunscreen for their head and neck, each limb and the front and back of the body. That’s about seven teaspoons (35mL) for a full body application. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
Remember, sunscreen is not a suit of armour and should be used with other sun protection measures.
3. Slap on a hat
Choose, a broad-brimmed, legionnaire or bucket style hat which shades your face, nose, neck and ears, which are common sites for skin cancers. Caps and visors do not provide enough protection.
4. Seek shade
Use trees, built shade structures, or bring your own (such as a sunshade tent)! Shade reduces UV radiation, but it can still reach you via reflection, so make sure you use shade in combination with other sun protection measures.
5. Slide on some sunglasses
Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat worn together can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98%. Sunglasses should be worn outside during daylight hours. Choose close-fitting wraparound sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS/NSZ 1067.
- Jaynie Moloney, Cancer Council NSW, Central Coast says that early Detection is also important, and Cancer Council encourages people to check their skin regularly for any new spots or changes in shape, colour or size of existing spots. “If you notice anything unusual, see your doctor as soon as possible. Most skin cancer can be successfully treated if it is found early. Skin cancer is Australia’s most prevalent cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable.”
- Overexposure to UV is the main cause of skin cancer. The skin can be damaged in as little as 15 minutes on a fine January day.
- You need to check the sun protection times – even when it’s overcast – as UV levels can be just as intense on a cool or cloudy day, as on a scorching hot one. Cancer Council’s SunSmart app can advise the critical timings to protect yourself from the sun. Select to receive the alert at the time of your choice or at the exact time the UV is forecast to reach a level that can damage your skin and eyes.
- More than 750,000 basal and squamous cell carcinomas are treated and 11,405 new melanomas are diagnosed in Australia each year.
- Around 2000 people die from melanoma and basal and squamous cell carcinomas in Australia each year.