Canberrans are being asked to think UV – not heat this Spring after Cancer Council’s National Sun Survey showed more than a quarter of ACT adults are still confused about what causes sunburn.
When asked the most useful measure for determining their sunburn risk for the day, 72% of Canberra adults were able to correctly identify the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation as the main risk.
Unfortunately this leaves some 28% of Canberra adults still not fully realising that UV radiation is the only cause of sunburn, mistakenly claiming temperature (17%), and/or cloud cover, wind or humidity (11%) as useful measures of sunburn risk or couldn’t say (3%).
With the arrival of Spring Cancer Council ACT’s David Wild said all Canberrans need to understand it’s UV –and not heat, wind or sunlight – that causes skin damage and sunburn and is the major cause of skin cancer.
“UV radiation is an invisible danger because it’s not like the sun’s warmth, which we feel, or the sun’s light, which we can see,” Mr Wild said.
“UV rays can be high enough to damage our skin on cooler days in Spring, so, if you are relying on temperature to work out whether you need to protect your skin or not, you will be caught out.
“Remember, every time we overexpose our skin to UV rays, the damage adds up to increase our risk of skin cancer.”
The Bureau of Meteorology’s National Manager of Public Weather Services Mr Vernon Carr said Spring was an especially important time to be aware of UV exposure.
“It’s the first day of Spring and UV levels increase rapidly to late December when they can reach extreme levels, so it is important to check your local weather forecast or the SunSmart app for the times of the day when sun protection measures are recommended each day in Canberra,” Mr Carr said.
“Remember that UV levels are not connected with maximum temperatures and at this time of year it is very easy to get sunburnt by being caught out, especially in late Spring and early Summer, when people spend more time outdoors in warmer temperatures unaware that UV levels are also rapidly rising in Canberra.”
Melanoma is the third most common diagnosed cancer in Canberra males and females. Every year in Canberra, on average there are 140 melanomas diagnosed. The disease claims one Canberra life each month. And when it comes to non-melanoma skin cancer (the most form of cancer) in 2010 there were over 765,000 treatments across Australia- with this figure set to rise.
“The good news is that most skin cancers can be prevented and we know how to do it – slip on clothing, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses,” Mr Wild said.
“Don’t wait for Summer to protect your skin. Get into the habit of checking daily sun protection times and know when UV is expected to reach damaging levels of 3 or higher. Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide during these times to cut your cancer risk.”
The Bureau of Meteorology include the maximum UV level and sun protection times for several hundred locations across Australia, available from bom.gov.au/uv alternatively Canberrans can visit myuv.com.au or simply download the free SunSmart app (or the new SunSmart widget for your website).
Live (real time) UV data for Canberra is also available via the SunSmart app, and at the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency website.
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.
Media Contact: David Wild p 6257 9999