Australians suffer the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Each year, around 1,200 Australians die from what is an almost totally preventable disease. Everyone can develop skin cancer; however, some people may be at higher risk than others, due to a range of factors.
Australia exposed to more UV Ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels in Australia are higher than in Europe, even during summer. Being located close to the ozone hole over the Antarctic means much higher, more severe levels of UV radiation get through to ground level.
During summer, the earth’s orbit brings Australia closer to the sun than Europe during its summer, resulting in an additional seven per cent solar UV intensity. This, coupled with our clearer atmospheric conditions, means Australians are exposed to up to 15 per cent more UV than Europeans.
First launched by a cartoon seagull singing ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ on TV screens in 1980,
SunSmart adopted its name and mission in 1988. An initiative of The Cancer Council Victoria and supported by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, SunSmart was developed to combat spiralling skin cancer incidence and mortality rates.
Since then, attitudes towards tanning and sun protection have changed dramatically. Australians have realised the pitfalls of their sun-loving, outdoor lifestyle and are taking preventative measures to reduce their risk of sun damage and skin cancer. Research by The Cancer Council Victoria shows SunSmart’s messages have reached a majority of Australians and had a stong impact on their behaviour.
Consequently, skin cancer deaths have slowed and for females, have even started to decline. More Australians are detecting skin cancers early, increasing their chances of surviving the disease.