SCORCHING figures show Gold Coast locals are fast increasing their risk of skin cancer, with nearly 50 per cent of adults getting sunburnt every year.
According to a report by the Queensland Department of Health, more than 60 per cent of Gold Coast locals aged 18-34 are sunburnt each year, compared to nearly 58 per cent of those aged 35-54 and 28 per cent of those aged over 55.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said sunburn caused significant, unrepairable damage to skin cells.
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“Sunburn is linked to all skin cancers including melanoma – the most deadly form of the disease,” Ms Clift said.
“What most Queenslanders don’t realise is that sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes, even on cold and overcast days – you can still be sunburnt when the temperature is cool.
“Sun exposure that doesn’t result in burning also damages the skin, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
“Getting sunburnt doesn’t just occur during a full day at the beach either – Queenslanders are often burnt unexpectedly at sports games, gardening at home or having a barbeque.
“This is an important reminder for all of us to stay SunSmart, and ensure we follow the recommended sun protective behaviours when the UV Index level is three or above.”
Sun protective behaviours are required when the UV Index level is three or above. In Queensland, the UV Index level is three or above all year round.
Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Around 3,000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the state each year.
On the Gold Coast alone, around 460 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year. Around 99 per cent of all skin cancer cases are caused by exposure to UV radiation.
“We recommend Queenslanders abide by all five recommendations – Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies when out and about,” Ms Clift said.
“Sunscreen or wearing a hat alone isn’t enough – we need to make the effort to do all we can to protect ourselves to reduce our skin cancer risk.”
More information about Cancer Council Queensland and staying SunSmart is available at cancerqld.org.au or Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.