Sun safety this summer

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The summer months often consist of long days of outdoor activities and holidays spent in the sun. However, amidst the fun and relaxation it can be easy to forget the importance of protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

According to Cancer Council:
• more than 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma cancers
• more than 11,500 people are treated for melanoma cancers in Australia each year
• Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

There are a number of preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, including these seven easy steps from Cancer Council:

1. Slip on sun-protective clothing
Choose clothing that covers as much skin as possible, like shirts with collars and long sleeves. Clothing made from close-weave materials such as cotton, polyester/cotton and linen will also doubly protect you from any rays trying to sneak through the surface. When swimming, lycra is best as it stays sun-protective when wet.

2. Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen
Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen generously to clean, dry skin and be sure to wait at least 20 minutes before going into the sun. Remember to use water-resistant sunscreen if you’re likely to sweat or go swimming, and to reapply every two hours.

3. Slap on a hat
A broad-brimmed hat will provide your face, nose, neck and ears – all of which are common sites for skin cancers – with good protection. Caps and visors do not provide enough protection as they still leave some areas exposed. Remember that when wearing a hat you still may be exposed to reflected UV radiation, such as from water or a white surface, so it’s still important to wear plenty of sunscreen.

4. Seek shade
It’s important to take regular breaks from the sun, especially during days with high temperatures or high UV levels. This will not only reduce your exposure to the sun’s rays, but will also give your body the chance to cool down and reduce your risk of heat stroke.

5. Slide on some sunglasses
According to Cancer Council, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat worn together can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98 per cent. When choosing sunglasses with ample protection, ensure you’re selecting a pair that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067. Close-fitting wrap-around sunglasses will also help to prevent any rays from sneaking through.

6. Be UV aware
By knowing when the UV levels are most intense, you will be better prepared to protect yourself and those around you from sun damage. Generally UV levels are strongest during the middle of the day, however for information specific to a particular day you can refer to the SunSmart UV Index, which can be found on the weather page of most daily newspapers and on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

7. Check your skin regularly
Keeping a regular eye on your skin will better enable you to notice any unusual skin changes, such as lesions that aren’t healing or moles that have suddenly appeared, changed in size or colour or have started to bleed. If you notice any unusual changes see your doctor immediately. Treatment is more likely to be successful if skin cancer is discovered early.

For more information on sun smart behaviour this summer visit Cancer Council:
http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/reduce-your-risk/be-sunsmart.html

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Source: Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology