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New data released today reveals that more than one third of South Aussies (34.2 per cent) are getting sunburnt at least once over summer.

The 2019 South Australian Population Health Survey analysed South Australian sun protection habits over the 2019 summer season.

Cancer Council SA Community Education Coordinator Diem Tran says that the data paints a concerning picture ahead of this years summer, which starts today.

“Not only are more than one third of South Aussies getting sunburnt, this figure has not improved from the previous year, which shows that not enough South Aussies are taking in the SunSmart message,” she said.

“Alarmingly, the data also showed a decrease from 2018 (83.5 per cent) to 2019 (81 per cent) in the proportion of South Aussies considering ‘too much time in the sun’ as an important risk factor for skin cancer.”

“With summer ahead of us and the UV reaching skin damaging levels daily, it’s important that South Australians understand that excessive time in the sun unprotected can significantly increase their long-term risk of skin cancer.”

Every year, there are around 25,000 skin cancer diagnoses in South Australia, with melanoma still the most common cancer diagnosed in young Australians. Up to 95 per cent of melanoma and 99 per cent of other skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation.

According to the report, only 10.4 per cent of South Australians relied on the UV Index to determine the need for sun protection, with 23 per cent incorrectly relying on temperature.

“It’s important to remember that even on cool or cloudy days, the UV can still reach extreme levels, especially during summer. It’s the UV, not the temperature, that determines our skin damage risk,” said Ms Tran.

To change these behaviours, Cancer Council SA will launch its “Don’t Let the Sun See Your DNA” campaign this week to encourage South Aussies to protect their skin over the summer months.

“We know that overexposure to UV radiation from the sun can damage your skin’s DNA, which can lead to skin cancer. With South Aussies gearing up for Christmas and summer celebrations this December, it’s important that we don’t forget to protect our skin,” she said.

“Australia is one of the skin cancer capitals of the world, however skin cancer is largely preventable with adequate skin protection. Our message to South Aussies this summer is simple—download the SunSmart App and if the UV is 3 and above, slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.

“It’s the best way to protect your skin’s DNA and prevent skin cancer.”

Australian Beach Volleyball player Zachery Schubert spends a lot of time out in the sun, both on the court and on his family farm in Loxton, and was therefore eager to try the SunSmart App.

“Growing up on a farm, the UV rating is something I’ve always been aware of and I really like the idea of now having this information readily available on my phone through the app,” he said.

“I have fair skin and burn quite easily, so no matter what the weather looks like I always try and take steps to be sun smart as it’s really important for my overall health and being able to perform to the best of my abilities on the court.

“I’m a big advocate for putting on sunscreen, seeking shade and wearing a hat, sunscreen and long sleeves (where possible).”

Cancer Council’s “Don’t Let the Sun See Your DNA” campaign will launch on radio, TV and online from Sunday 6 December and run throughout summer.

For more information on the campaign visit the SunSmart website.

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