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  • Teens tone down tanning 10 years on – but sun protection neglected

    17 November 2014

    New findings from Cancer Council’s National Sun Protection Survey show Australian adolescents are developing healthier attitudes towards tanning, but there is still room for improvement.

    Research released today (17/11) shows 38 per cent of young Australians (aged 12-17 years) like to get a sun tan, compared to 60 per cent 10 years ago.

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said the results were encouraging and that most teens no longer viewed the ‘bronzed Aussie’ as something to aspire to.

    “It is wonderful to see teens understanding that a tan isn’t the hallmark of health that it was once made out to be, on the contrary, it’s quite unhealthy,” Professor Wilson said.

    “However, while most young people don’t actively seek a tan, they also need to be SunSmart and protect themselves.

    “Evidence shows that exposure to UV radiation during adolescence and childhood largely determines a person’s lifetime skin cancer risk – a lesson that many older Australians are now learning.”

    The survey showed teens are still not doing enough to protect themselves from the sun.  

    “Twenty-three per cent of adolescents are still getting sunburnt on summer weekends, a figure which shows no significant change since 2003-04,” Professor Wilson said.

    “UV damages our skin and this damage lasts a lifetime, increasing the risk of developing skin cancer.”

    Cancer Council SA and the Australasian College of Dermatologists are using National Skin Cancer Action Week (17 - 23 Nov) to remind young Australians that they aren’t invincible, and that proper sun protection and skin awareness can be a lifesaver when it comes to skin cancer.

    Professor Wilson said that although two in three Australians would be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70, adolescents underestimated their skin cancer risk, with one in two rating their chances of developing skin cancer as ‘low’.[i]

    “With the schoolies festival happening this weekend and many sporting and music events occurring over the next couple of months, it is a timely reminder to our young people that there is no such thing as a healthy tan and to protect your skin and avoid getting burnt.

    “Use the recommended sun protection measures and the odds of preventing skin cancer are in your favour.”

    The Chair of the South Australian Faculty of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, Dr Karen Koh, reminded young people that getting to know their skin was an important part of being sun safe.

    “Make a habit of keeping an eye on your skin and get to know what ‘normal’ is for you,” Dr Koh said.

    “It doesn’t take long and it can make the difference between early detection and not knowing until it’s too late.

    “If you notice any changes, see your doctor because early detection of skin cancer almost always means it can be successfully treated.”

    Former Olympian, Stephanie Rice, is supporting this year’s campaign, urging young people to take their skin health more seriously to reap the long-term benefits.

    “I’ve grown up outdoors and in the water and loved every bit of it - but you have to be smart. Skin cancer can almost be considered our national cancer, yet it’s so preventable. When you’re heading out, slip, slop, slap, seek and slide and make your summer a safe one.”

    National Skin Cancer Action Week is an initiative of Cancer Council Australia and is supported by the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

    For cancer information and support, please call Cancer Council 13 11 20, Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 5:30pm.


    Key results

    The 2013-14 National Sun Protection Survey was conducted was conducted via phone over the summer of 2013-14. A total of 6,349 Australians were interviewed, including 1,061 adolescents aged 12 to 17. Conducted every three to four years by Cancer Council, the survey provides a perspective on changing trends in sun protection behaviours and rates of sunburn over the past decade.

    Results for adolescents aged 12 to 17 are compared to previous surveys.

    Trends in adolescents’ intentional tanning attitudes and behaviour

    Adolescents  (12-17), N=3,779

    2003-04

    %

    2006-07

    %

    2010-11

    %

    2013-14

    %

    Like to get a suntan

    60

    51

    45

    38

    Believe a suntanned person is more healthy

    19

    17

    12

    16

    Attempted a suntan this season

    32

    22

    22

    17

     

    Trends in adolescents’ weekend sunburn

    Adolescents  (12-17) N=3,779

    2003-04

    %

    2006-07

    %

    2010-11

    %

    2013-14

    %

    Sunburnt on summer weekends

    25

    24

    21

    23


     

    Differences in attitudes and behaviour by gender

    Male adolescents’ sunburn incidence and suntan preference

    2003-04

    %

    2006-07

    %

    2010-11

    %

    2013-14

    %

    Burnt either day of the weekend

    25

    28

    23

    26

    Like to get a suntan

    54

    43

    37

    31

     

    Female adolescents’ sunburn incidence and suntan preference

    2003-04

    %

    2006-07

    %

    2010-11

    %

    2013-14

    %

    Burnt either day of the weekend

    26

    19

    20

    19

    Like to get a suntan

    66

    60

    52

    47

     

     



    [i]Ratings were made on an 11-point scale ranging from 0- ‘no chance at all’ to 10- ‘I will definitely develop skin cancer’. Ratings of 0 to 4 on this scale have been classified as low perceived risk; 'can't say' responses were not treated as low risk responses.

     

     

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