Whether you’re at the beach, by the pool or simply on a walk around the block – you can burn in as little as 10-15 minutes here in Queensland when the UV is at its peak.
That’s why it’s vitally important for people to know exactly how to protect themselves and reduce their risk of skin cancer. But with a myriad of myths and misconceptions circulating, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction.
With UV levels rising and summer just around the corner, Cancer Council Queensland is encouraging people to brush up on their ‘Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide’ knowledge before heading outdoors.
Cancer Council Queensland Ms Chris McMillan said prevention and early detection were key in reducing rates of skin cancer in the community.
“Australia has the second highest rate of skin cancer in the world, after New Zealand, and Queensland has the highest rate of any state or territory,” Ms McMillan said.
“This is largely due to our proximity to the equator, a largely fair-skinned population, and our love of the great outdoors.
“Each year in Queensland around 3960 people are diagnosed with melanoma.
“Excessive exposure to the sun does not just happen when deliberately seeking a tan. In a high UV environment like Queensland, we can be exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation during all sorts of daily activities, such as gardening, walking the dog or having a picnic. This sun exposure adds up over time increasing the risk of skin cancer.
“Knowing fact from fiction will help you reduce your cancer risk and protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.
“It is also important for Queenslanders to get to know their skin and take action by seeking medical advice as soon as they notice any changes.”
Cancer Council Queensland has busted five common sun safety myths to help Queenslanders stay sun safe all year long.
MYTH ONE: Sun damage is not possible on windy, cloudy or cool days.
FALSE: Sun damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not temperature. A cool or overcast day in summer can have similar UV levels to a warm, sunny day. Sun damage is also possible on cloudy days, as UV radiation can penetrate some clouds, and may even be more intense due to reflection off the clouds.
It is important to remember to practice sun safe behaviours when spending time outdoors, regardless of the weather, if the UV is three or above. Cancer Council have a free SunSmart app available for download that tells you when sun protection is recommended for your location. To find out more about this, please visit, https://www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/interactive-tools/free-sunsmart-app.
MYTH TWO: People with olive skin or who tan easily can’t get skin cancer
FALSE: People with olive or very dark skin naturally have more protection against skin cancer because their skin produces more melanin than fair-skinned people. However, they can still develop skin cancer.
If skin darkens, it is a sign of skin cells in trauma, even if there is no redness or peeling. Skin darkens as a way of trying to protect itself because the UV rays are damaging living cells. It is important people of all skin complexions to use sun protection.
MYTH THREE: You need lots of sun exposure to avoid vitamin D deficiency
FALSE: UV levels are high all year round in Queensland and therefore Queenslanders typically receive enough sun exposure while completing everyday tasks – like walking to the car or shops. During peak UV times, it’s important to reduce your risk of skin cancer by protecting your skin. If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, make sure you have a chat to your GP.
MYTH FOUR: Putting sunscreen on once is enough.
FALSE: It’s not. Even if it says once-a-day or waterproof on the label, all sunscreens should be re-applied every two hours, or more often if swimming, sweating or towel drying. It’s also really easy to miss bits of your body so don’t be shy with it, put plenty on. We recommend at least 5mL, or one teaspoon, of sunscreen per limb, front and back or torso, and the face, neck and ears.
Next time you are applying sunscreen be sure to check how much you are putting on to ensure you are properly protected. When reapplying, allow sunscreen to settle on the skin for at least 10 to 15 minutes before going back into the water.
MYTH FIVE: Sunscreen lasts forever.
FALSE. Contrary to common belief, sunscreen naturally expires. The active ingredients can break down over time and using expired sunscreen may leave the skin unprotected. Make sure you check the expiry date on your sunscreen and store the bottle in a cool place, not in direct sunlight.
For more information on Cancer Council Queensland and skin cancer, visit cancerqld.org.au.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Brianna Burraston, Public Relations Coordinator, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5308 or 0428 580 363