1 in 3 confused about causes of sunburn

Queenslanders are being urged to think UV this Spring – not heat – after Cancer Council’s National Sun Survey showed more than a third of adults are still confused about what causes sunburn.

When asked the most useful measure for determining their sunburn risk, 67 per cent of Queensland adults were able to correctly identify the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

However, 33 per cent of adults did not realise that UV radiation is the only cause of sunburn.

18 per cent mistakenly claimed temperature as a useful measure of sunburn risk, 15 per cent thought cloud-cover, wind, or humidity could damage their skin and four per cent couldn’t say*.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said with the arrival of spring, Queenslanders needed to be vigilant when heading outdoors.

“It’s vital to understand that UV radiation – not heat, wind, or sunlight – causes sunburn,” Ms Clift said.

“These common misconceptions could result in long-term consequences for people failing to protect their skin from the harmful effects of UV.

“Exposure to UV radiation not only causes sunburn, but also premature ageing, damage to the eyes, and can lead to skin cancer later in life.

“Sun protection is required when the UV Index level is three or above – in Queensland, that is all seasons, all year.

“It’s imperative for Queenslanders to follow the five recommended sun protective behaviours when heading outdoors this spring.

“Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies when outdoors to best reduce their risk of skin cancer.”

Queensland, the Sunshine State, is the skin cancer capital of the world.

More than 3600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and it is estimated that over 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are treated.

“Most skin cancers can be prevented through simple sun protection measures,” Ms Clift said.

“Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide to help reduce your cancer risk.”

The Bureau of Meteorology includes the maximum UV level and sun protection times for several hundred locations across Australia, available from bom.gov.au/uv  or on the free SunSmart app.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland, and reducing the risk of skin cancer, is available via 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.


For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift,
Executive Manager,
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171


*The National Sun Protection Survey was conducted via phone over the summer of 2013-14. Conducted every three to four years by Cancer Council, the survey provides a perspective on changing trends in Australians’ sun protection behaviours and rates of sunburn over the past decade. Respondents could select more than one response so the per cent of Queensland adults does not total 100 per cent.