IT'S not just sun tanners who are at risk of skin cancer as new data shows more adults get sunburnt during day-to-day activities around the home than at the iconic summer beach setting.
Data from the 2013-14 National Sun Survey shows that over summer weekends, 50 per cent of Australian adults were sunburnt doing activities around the home, such as gardening and chores, along with other passive recreation activities such as reading or having a BBQ.
The figure dwarfs the 29 per cent of adults who reported getting sunburnt during activities at the beach, lake or pool; and the 21 per cent sunburnt while playing sport or taking part in other active recreation.
The results coincide with the launch of the ‘UV. It all adds up’ campaign, which highlights the importance of protecting skin while outdoors
Filmed in Victoria, the campaign shows how UV damage keeps adding up every time a person spends time unprotected in the sun. In a shift away from the iconic summer beach scene, the advertisement follows a man taking his dog for a walk, working outdoors and hosting a backyard barbeque. By failing to protect his skin, the man allows UV damage to ‘add up’ – with dire consequences.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the sunburn data demonstrates that people are spending more time exposed to UV than they think.
“I think people will be surprised by these results. ‘Incidental’ UV exposure is catching people out. It may not occur to people that sun protection is just as important whether you are in the backyard, lying in the park or hanging out at the beach,” Mr Harper said.
Incidental UV damage also shows up in Victorian tanning figures – just 13 per cent of adults had attempted a suntan over summer, but 61 per cent of adults reported having tanned skin.
“After decades of sun protection messaging targeted to the bronzed Aussie, there is high awareness of the health risks associated with tanning.
"However, with more people getting sunburnt during day-to-day activities (like mowing the lawn or socialising with friends) than by the water, it’s clear that tackling this trend of incidental UV damage is our next challenge,” Mr Harper said.
“Your skin is like a memory bank, it remembers all the time outdoors unprotected – all the sunburns, tans and solarium visits.
"This is particularly important throughout summer when UV rays hit extreme levels. The damage all adds up and increases your long-term risk of skin cancer.”
Australasian College of Dermatologists President Chris Baker said skin cancer was by far the most common cancer in Australia, with dermatologists, surgeons and GP’s treating more than 2,000 skin cancers every day.
“The good news about skin cancer is that it can be prevented and, if detected early, can also be successfully treated,” Dr Baker said.
“It’s important to get to know your skin and what looks normal for you. If you notice any changes in size, shape or colour of an existing spot, or the development of a new spot, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.”
Sun protection times (when UV levels are high enough to damage skin) are available for locations across Australia via the SunSmart app or at bom.gov.au