Attitudes to tanning improve, but sun protection neglected
New findings from Cancer Council’s National Sun Protection Survey show Australian adolescents are developing healthier attitudes towards tanning, but there is still room for improvement.
Research released today (17/11) shows 38 per cent of young Australians (aged 12-17 years) like to get a sun tan, compared to 60 per cent 10 years ago.
Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said the results were encouraging and that most teens no longer viewed the ‘bronzed Aussie’ as something to aspire to.
However, the survey also showed teens were still not doing enough to protect themselves from the sun. “Twenty-three per cent of adolescents are still sunburnt on summer weekends, a figure which shows no significant change since 2003-04,” Professor Olver said.
Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists are using National Skin Cancer Action Week (16-22 Nov) to remind young Australians that they aren’t invincible, and that proper sun protection and skin awareness can be a lifesaver when it comes to skin cancer.
This year’s theme of “Your Summer. Your Skin. Your Story.” aims to raise awareness of the harsh effects of skin cancer while encouraging Australians to share their personal skin cancer stories and how it has impacted their lives.
Professor Olver said that although two in three Australians would be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70, adolescents underestimated their skin cancer risk, with one in two rating their chances of developing skin cancer as ‘low’.i
“It’s wonderful to see teens understanding that a tan isn’t the hallmark of health it was once made out to be,” he said. “However, while most don’t actively seek a tan, we do want them to actively protect themselves.
“Skin cancer doesn’t have to be an inevitability. Take the recommended sun protection measures and the odds of preventing it are in your favour.”
Dermatologist and Honorary Secretary of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, Dr Patricia Lowe, reminded young people that getting to know their skin was an important part of being sun safe. “Make a habit of keeping an eye on your skin and getting to know what ‘normal’ is for you. It doesn’t take long and it can make the difference between early detection and not knowing until it’s too late. If you notice any changes, see your doctor because early detection of skin cancer almost always means it can be successfully treated.”
Former Olympian, Stephanie Rice, is supporting this year’s campaign, urging young people to take their skin health more seriously to reap the long-term benefits.
“I’ve grown up outdoors and in the water and loved every bit of it – but you have to be smart. Skin cancer can almost be considered our national cancer, yet it’s so preventable. When you’re heading out, slip, slop, slap, seek and slide and make your summer a safe one.”
(Source: Cancer Council Australia)