With summer finally on its way, this means we’ll be spending more time outside and making the most of the good weather with friends and family. And while we all get excited about sunny days, whether it be at the beach, park or having a BBQ in the backyard it is important to remember to protect yourself from those harmful UV rays.
As we know, Australians love the outdoors with the bronzed skinned stereotype still running strong throughout our culture, but at what cost?
According to Sun Smart, Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and it is estimated that two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer each year. (Sun Smart website)
The most commonly diagnosed cancer among adolescents and young adults is melanoma. This accounts for more than one-quarter of all cancers among Australians ages 15-29 years. (Sun Smart)
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs in the parts of the body that have been overexposed to the sun. it is one of the most serious types of cancer as it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body, especially if it’s not detected early. (Cancer Council)
While many Australians still believe that having a tan is a sign of looking healthy, they don’t understand it actually shows the damage of your skin. The main cause of skin cancer is the exposure to ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun or other sources such as a tanning solarium.
UV radiation overexposure permanently damages the skin and adds up over time, changing the structure of cells and affecting the way they behave. (Cancer Council)
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the exposure to ultra-violet radiation, both from sunlight and solariums, is the major cause of melanoma in Australia. (AIHW)
The World Heath Organisation (WHO) shows that Australia has a higher UV index than many other countries. This means the likelihood of getting burned and in turn developing melanoma is higher than in other places. (WHO)
So how do you protect yourself?
More than 2,000 Australians die from skin cancer each year, with over 12,500 people estimated to being diagnosed with melanoma each year. (Cancer Council)
These statistics are alarming; especially since taking precautions out in the sun could have prevented being diagnosed.
On that note, here are some great ways you can protect yourself and others this summer approved by the Cancer Council and guaranteed to make a difference next time you’re out in the sun. (Cancer Council)
This is probably the most well known preventative in the book. If you’re going to be in the sun, apply sunscreen, it’s that simple. Most people don’t apply enough so make sure you’ve covered your body and limbs entirely. And don’t forget your neck and ears!
Protect your skin
Make sure to wear clothing that will protect you from the sun, wear clothing that covers as much as possible including a hat and sunglasses. And where possible, try to stay in the shade, this will not only help protect from the sun in form of melanoma but also heat stroke.
Be UV alert
Try to stay out of the sun during the time of the day when the UV Index is harshest. The UV Alert can be found on the Bureau of Meteorology website.
Avoiding sun exposure during these times is a good idea as sometimes the UV Index can be high for a number of hours.
Use fake tan from a can
Don’t use solariums, tanning beds or solar lamps that give off UV radiation. It is also important not to lie in the sun in an effort to get a tan, as this is when UV radiation can damage your skin. Instead use a tan from a bottle or can to give yourself a bronzed look.
Look for symptoms
If detected early, melanoma can be treated more successfully. It is important to get your skin checked regularly and to check with your doctor if you notice any changes.
So make sure you protect yourself, family and friends this summer. It doesn’t take long to put on some sunscreen and a hat and you’ll be happier in the long term for it.