Jetting abroad has become as common as taking a road trip down the coast and no matter where they go Aussies always seem to be chasing the sun. Old favourites like the Greek islands or Spanish Mediterranean have started to compete in Europe with upstarts like the beautiful Croatian coast or fun-loving Montenegrian beaches. While closer to home Australians swarm the coasts of Bali, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.
When summer hits in Australia we go to the beach, out into the bush for a hike, or try to find a long weekend to fly up north for a bit of extra relaxation. In this Australians have become better and better at protecting themselves from the sun while on holiday. Whether putting on a hat or layering on the sunscreen, thought of sun protection always goes into packing for a week away.
What we often forget however, is that skin cancer does not just come from the holiday sun. Risk of skin cancer is deeply tied into the everyday lifestyle of Australians and the risks that they take. It is just as important to put on sunscreen when walking down to the office, taking a jog or going for a stroll as it is to slap it on when visiting a beach in Pa Tong or Kuta.
Two in three Australians are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the time that they are seventy years old. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the third most common cause of cancer in Australia (when excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). Approximately 13,000 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma every year and in 2018 Australia had the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
What this all means is that despite increasing education about the importance of protecting your skin, there is still a way to go for people to understand how it is not just something you do on the weekend or when you know you will be in the sun, but something that should take up a regular part of our everyday lives. Putting on sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses should be just as natural when stepping outside to do some shopping as when going to spend the day at the beach.
This is particularly important if you fall into the category of someone at increased risk for skin cancer. This includes people with:
- Fair features such as blond or red hair and pale skin
- People with an excess of moles (over 100 moles on the body)
- People with a family history of skin cancer
- People who spend a large amount of their day in the sun
Experts recommend that people follow sun protection guidelines every day, which include:
- Slipping on sun protective clothing
- Using SPF 30 sunscreen and applying it every two hours when outdoors and 20 minutes before being exposed to the sun
- Wear a hat that protects the face, ears and neck
- Seek shade whenever possible
- Use sunglasses to protect your eyes