As the latest government skin cancer campaign gets underway, it seems sun-lovers are finally getting the message.
What the government is telling us in its latest 'shock' campaign is nothing new we've been hearing the same life-saving slip, slop, slap message for years but what is new are the tactics.
The campaign's latest slogan, 'Don't let your time out in the sun catch up with you', is accompanied by graphic images that are designed to scare. So while their core message remains the same skin cancer is preventable, as long as we make smart choices when we're out in the sun the gore-worthy images and hard-hitting words aim to finally make sun-lovers cover up.
And with over 15,000 deaths in Australia each year attributed to skin cancer, it's no wonder that the Cancer Council says encouraging people to adopt multiple sun-saving behaviour as the norm is at the top of their list, as is warning young Australians of the risks of prolonged sun exposure.
What many people, especially young Aussies, don't realise is that even without sunburn prolonged sun exposure can cause:
- skin damage
- skin cancer
- premature ageing
Phase two of the no-holds-barred campaign is targeted at the 13-24-year age group, as they are the least likely to use adequate protection and the most likely to get sunburnt. Recent focus group research done for the Cancer Council in February reinforces this claim, revealing that adolescent girls believe having a tan increases their popularity.
''Girls were aware of the risks of tanning, but they said if they got skin cancer they could have it cut out'', says the Cancer Council's SunSmart manager Kylie Strong. ''They found it hard to believe [skin cancer] could be fatal''.
The latest public awareness campaign's main purpose is to reinforce the fact that young people are vulnerable to life-threatening skin cancers. In fact, melanoma is the 10th most common cause of cancer death in Australia.
Some of Hollywood's hottest stars have ditched their coconut oil in favour of a broad-rimmed hat and SPF30+. Leading the way is the sun-smart Victoria Beckham, who has adopted some skin-saving habits since relocating to sunny LA.
''Since moving to California I've realised how important it is to practice safe sun for myself and my boys, '' says the Posh mum-of-three, who has now joined forces with designer Marc Jacobs to raise awareness. Along with other A-listers Heidi Klum, Eva Mendes and Joss Stone, Victoria has posed nude on a series of T-shirts that will be sold to raise money for skin cancer research.
Slip, slop, slap ... and sip
Covering up and wearing sunscreen are the obvious ways to protect against the sun's harmful rays, but a recent study from researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey has found that caffeine also protects against the effects of UV-B radiation, which can lead to cancer.
Unlike sunscreen, which protects the skin by preventing it from absorbing UV rays, caffeine prevents the sun's rays from causing genetic changes in the skin that can then lead to skin cancer. It does this by selectively causing abnormal cells to kill themselves.
Don't become another statistic, and don't just rely on your morning coffee to save your skin from the sun's piercing rays. Instead make covering up from the sun part of your daily routine by following these simple steps:
- Seek shade when out in the sun
- Wear protective clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible
- Wear a broad-rimmed hat that shades your face and neck
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses
- Apply SPF30+ broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen every two hours.