From our beautiful beaches to the lush hinterland, we’re lucky to live in a nation where we are spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor nature escapes. However, our love for the outdoors has made Australia a country with one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, giving us the reputation of being the skin cancer capital.
The fact is, around 80 per cent of all newly diagnosed cancers every year in Australia are skin cancers, with studies finding that two in three Aussies will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. While exposure to UV radiation in sunlight is the main cause of developing skin cancers, there is still some confusion about sun protection.
With summer on its way, we’ve debunked some of the most common sun protection myths and what you can do to stay safe.
When it comes to selecting a sunscreen, the two most important considerations are the sun protection factor (SPF) and whether it’s a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum sunscreen that can protect your skin from all UV rays.
It’s important to protect yourself against both UVA rays, which cause premature ageing of the skin, and UVB rays, which cause the skin to burn. The most effective sunscreen also needs to be at least SPF 30 or higher. Although it may seem like there is a significant difference, SPF50+ only provides somewhat better protection from UVB radiation, which causes sunburn and increases your risk of skin cancer. SPF30 sunscreens block around 96.7 per cent of UV radiation, while SPF50+ sunscreens block 98 per cent of UV radiation.
The damage UV causes to DNA does add up over time, meaning people can notice cancer symptoms years after originally being burned or spending an excessive amount of time in the sun.
So even if you have a history of sunbaking, or you have already been diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s never too late to start protecting yourself from further damage.
One way to rejuvenate your skin is to add a moisturising product into your daily skincare routine. There is a common misconception that you don’t need to moisturise your skin in the summertime – but this is not true.
Most Australians get enough vitamin D from just a few minutes of sun exposure while going about their daily business, such as walking to the vehicle or the store, when UV levels are 3 or higher.
Studies have shown that spending more time in the sun will not boost your vitamin D levels. The body only needs a small amount of UV light to produce vitamin D and any extra UV exposure will just cause damage.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about sun safety. Even when it’s not sunny, sun damage still occurs when it’s windy, cloudy, and cold.
It’s important to remember that sun damage is caused by UV radiation, not temperature. So even on a cool, cloudy day, most UV radiation will still be able to penetrate the clouds and cause damage.
Incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine is a great way to make sure you’re covered.
The most important thing to remember about sun exposure is balance and using your common sense to avoid getting sun damage. Sunshine can have a remarkable effect on your health and happiness, so it’s wise to be sun smart and have a daily skincare routine – after all, your skin is the largest organ of the human body!
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.