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New research shows almost 2.4 million Aussie adults sunburnt on summer weekends

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New research released by Cancer Council on World Cancer Day (4 Feb) shows that approximately 430,000 more Australian adults are getting sunburnt on the weekend than they were four years ago, increasing their risk of skin cancer.

Findings from Cancer Council’s National Sun Survey suggest the downward trend in adult sunburn since 2003/04 has hit a hurdle, with adults potentially becoming more complacent about the dangers of excessive exposure to UV rays.

The Chair of Cancer Council’s National Skin Cancer Committee, Vanessa Rock, said that the latest data shows that on a summer weekend roughly 2.4 million Aussies are getting sunburnt.

“This means that compared to four years ago, approximately 430,000 more Aussie adults are getting burnt and putting themselves at risk of skin cancer.”

She said the data was a wake-up call that highlighted the need for Government to re-invest in national mass market skin cancer prevention campaigns to ensure adults remained vigilant about skin cancer.

“While this latest research demonstrates the number of Australians who were getting sunburnt is still significantly lower than ten years ago, the recent increase is cause for concern.

“The survey suggests men in particular are neglecting sun protection, with 18% getting sunburnt on the weekend, compared to 12% of women.”

Ms Rock said possible explanations for the higher rates of sunburn included an increase in the amount of time adults spend outdoors during peak UV periods.

“Our survey indicates that adults are spending more time outdoors in peak UV times than four years ago, increasing their chances of getting sunburnt.

“We also know that 18% of adults didn’t protect their skin from the sun when they spent more than an hour outside during summer.”

“Almost all skin cancers are caused by UV exposure, so it’s important organisations like Cancer Council, as well as government, continue to remind Australians that skin cancer is largely preventable and encourage them to take the simple steps to lower their skin cancer risk – slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.”

Key results

Table 1. Weekend adult sunburn – prevalence and trends over time

Estimated number of people sunburnt*2,397,5211,958,9971,946, 5322,380,227


Table 2. Weekend adult sunburn by sex 2013-14

 MenWomenAll persons


Table 3. Weekend sun exposure during peak UVR times – prevalence and trends over time

Respondents outdoors longer than 15 minutes during peak UV times73%67%66%70%
Mean Time spent outdoors in minutes118116111116


Table 4. Adults’ not using adequate sun protection

 MenWomenAll persons
Respondents who were outdoors for more than 1 hour on a sunny summer day (during 9am-5pm) but had NOT protected their skin adequately                  21%14%18%

† Covered their arms, face and most of their body from the sun with sunscreen, clothing or a hat, or mostly stayed under shade

(Source: Cancer Council AustraliaNational Sun Survey)

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Posted On: 12 February, 2015
Modified On: 13 February, 2015


Created by: myVMC