One in Two Aussie Sunburns Occur During Everyday Activity

Men's cancers

New Cancer Council research shows half of weekend sunburns occur while Aussies are going about day-to-day activities, with the backyard replacing the beach as a sunburn hotspot.

Cancer Council is warning Queenslanders that ‘it all adds up’ – reminding people that sun damage from UV radiation increases individual risks of deadly skin cancer.

Results from Cancer Council’s National Sun Survey*, released today show that over summer weekends, 50 per cent of adult sunburn occurs during everyday activities.

Activities such as gardening and chores around the yard, along with passive recreation such as reading, enjoying a picnic in the park or having a barbeque can lead to skin damage.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said incidental sunburns were catching Queenslanders out.

“The rate of sunburn during everyday activities dwarfs the 29 per cent of adults sunburned at the beach, lake or pool, as well as the 21 per cent sunburned playing sport or taking part in other active recreation,” Ms Clift said.

“Sun protection is just as important in the backyard or a local park, as hanging out at the beach in Queensland.

“Whether accidental or intentional, exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin damage and cancer.

“After decades of targeting Queenslanders with sun protection messaging, just nine per cent of adults are actively trying to get a tan – yet 68 per cent of adults report having tanned skin – which shows that most UV damage is unintentional.

“Tackling this trend of incidental UV exposure is among one of our greatest challenges in stopping skin cancer deaths.”

Cancer Council urges Queenslanders to adopt all five sun protective behaviours when the UV Index level is three or above.

“Employing all five methods of sun protection (Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide) when you’re outdoors will prevent UV damage from adding up and increasing your long-term risk of skin cancer,” Ms Clift said.

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

“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.

“Always remember to Slip on sun protective clothing, Slop on SPF30 or above, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunglasses.”

Sun protection times are available for locations across Australia via Cancer Council’s SunSmart app or at

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or 13 11 20.

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

Key results
*The National Sun Protection Survey was conducted via phone over the summer of 2013-14. A total of 6349 Australians were interviewed. 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.

Table 1: Prevalence of sunburn by activity type among Australian adults 18-69 years who were sunburnt during peak UV times over the summer of 2013-14

Outdoor activity

% of  Australian adults sunburnt during peak UV
Chores around the home and passive recreation
(Includes: gardening, having a BBQ, reading and socialising)
Activity at beach/water/pool 29
Outdoor sport and other active recreation 21

Table 2:  Adults who attempted a suntan vs adults who reported having tanned skin











Reported attempted a suntan (%) 11 13 11 9 7 12 10 9 8
Reported having tanned skin (%) 64 61 63 68 63 69 65 65 62