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New Cancer Council SA data shows that fair skinned South Aussies are more likely to protect their skin than those South Aussies with darker or olive complexions.

The data, released today and collected as a part of the 2019 South Australian Population Health Survey shows that 10 per cent of South Aussies with low-risk skin types report never using sun protection, compared to only 3 per cent of South Aussies with high-risk skin types.

People with skin-types considered higher-risk are those with a fair complexion, blonde or red hair, blue eyes, and freckles, typically with a tendency to burn rather than tan.

However, UV radiation can still cause harm to those with skin that is more likely to tan than burn, or where visible changes are harder to notice. Cancer Council SA Community Education Coordinator Diem Tran says being low risk for sunburn does not prevent you from getting skin cancer.

“Skin can be damaged when exposed to UV levels 3 and above. And it can happen regardless of whether you burn or a tan, or even if there are no visible changes to your skin. This damage adds up over time, increasing your risk of skin cancer.”

“Thinking that you don’t need to protect your skin because you don’t burn is a myth – it’s important we all practice sun protective behaviours. No skin type is immune to skin cancer,” she said.

With Fringe Festival starting this weekend and outdoor events held throughout February and March, Ms Tran urged all South Aussies, regardless of their skin type, to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide when enjoying outdoor activities.

“We know from the data that South Aussies with higher-risk skin types are better at engaging in the five SunSmart behaviours and are more likely to wear a hat, use sunscreen, wear sun protective clothing and seek shade against sun exposure than people with lower-risk skin types,” she said.

“The sun can see through your skin to the cells beneath the surface and do damage to your skin’s DNA. And that damage doesn’t always repair. It just keeps building and building until one day, it causes skin cancer.

“We know that UV remains high even throughout February and March, which is why it’s so important to protect your skin whenever the UV is 3 and above. It’s the best defence against cumulative, irreversible skin damage, which can lead to skin cancer.”

For more information how to protect your skin this summer, visit the Cancer Council website here.

Interviews can be arranged on request by contacting Natasha Baugh on 0400 855 244 or sending an email

Notes to editor:

  • Skin cancer accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year.
  • Melanoma is the most common cancer in Australians aged 12 – 24
  • UV is responsible for 99 per cent of all non-melanoma and 95 per cent of melanoma skin cancers.
  • At least two in three people are diagnosed with skin cancer before age 70
  • Cancer Council recommends sun protection whenever the UV is 3 and above.
  • To minimise skin damage, you should protect your skin in five ways when UV is 3 and above:
    • Slip on some sun protective clothing
    • Slop on SPF 30, or higher, broad spectrum sunscreen
    • Slap on a shady hat that protects the head, face, ears and neck
    • Seek shade whenever possible
    • Slide on some wraparound sunglasses