Cancer Council survey finds millions of Australians are getting sunburnt on weekend

The proportion of adults wearing clothing to protect themselves from the sun has decreased from 19 per cent to 17 per cent in the last three years. Photo: Supplied
The proportion of adults wearing clothing to protect themselves from the sun has decreased from 19 per cent to 17 per cent in the last three years. Photo: Supplied

There are fears Australians have become complacent about sun protection, with new research revealing 2.7 million adults are getting sunburnt on weekends because many aren't slipping on a shirt.

The latest Cancer Council National Sun Protection Survey shows that overall the proportion of adults wearing clothing to protect themselves from the sun has decreased from 19 per cent to 17 per cent in the last three years.

Alarmingly, the number of adults getting sunburnt on weekends has steadily increased over the past seven years. The rate of weekend adult sunburn rose from 13 per cent in 2010-11 to 17 per cent in 2016-17.

The state or territory with the highest proportion of adult weekend sunburn was the Northern Territory at 25 per cent, followed by Tasmania (21 per cent) and the ACT (19 per cent).

Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia described the results as alarming and has renewed a push for greater government investment for skin cancer prevention.

"Australia hasn't had federal funding for a skin cancer prevention campaign since 2007 - this latest data suggests adults are becoming complacent about UV and demonstrates the urgent need for a refreshed national campaign," Prof Aranda said.

While the survey showed sunscreen use is on the rise, Australians are reminded it's just one tool to protect the skin from harmful UV and isn't a "suit of armour".

"The motto remains the same - slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide on sunglasses. Wearing covering clothing is one of the simplest and effective ways to protect your skin," Prof Aranda said.

Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime and parents have also been warned against becoming foolish when it comes to protecting their own skin.

Dr Andrew Miller, President of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, says adults need to join their children in being SunSmart this Summer.

"The theme for this year's National Skin Cancer Action Week is 'Join the SunSmart Generation'. We often see Australian parents protecting their children with rashies, hats, sunscreen and shade - while not protecting themselves well," Dr Miller said.

"Melanoma rates in Australians aged 40 and under are dropping and the children of today are our most SunSmart generation ever," he said.

"However, it's a real concern that sun protection behaviours overall don't seem to be improving and that over 2.7 million Australians are putting themselves at risk of skin cancer by getting sunburnt on summer weekends."

AAP 

This story first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.