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New campaign warns 'No tan is worth dying for'

Sunday 10 February, 2008

Big fall in teens seeking a tan, says Cancer Council: Yet a quarter still get sunburnt on summer weekends

New research from The Cancer Council has shown a big fall in the number of teens deliberately tanning, down 45 per cent over the past three years. Yet despite the promising trend, almost a quarter of teens are still getting sunburnt over a typical summer weekend.

The Cancer Council Australia's CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said results from the National Sun Protection Survey showed there had been a "remarkable turnaround" in attitudes to tanning.

"On one hand this is very encouraging, however the bad news is one in four teenagers is still getting burnt, not because they want to get a tan but because they are forgetting to protect themselves," he said. "In contrast adults are clearly putting SunSmart behaviour into practice with a 31 per cent fall in adults reporting they were sunburnt since the last survey in 2004."

Professor Olver said recent advertising campaigns were clearly having an impact, but an ongoing summer campaign was essential to reduce skin cancer death rates, which "rival the annual road toll."

The National Sun Survey of 5085 adults and 652 teenagers around Australia also found:

Girls were more likely to deliberately tan (29%) compared to boys (15%), however boys were more likely to get sunburnt (28%) than girls (19%), as more boys spent time outside in peak UV times and were less likely to use sunscreen
14% of Australian adults aged 18-69 (1.8 million) and 24% of adolescents aged 12-17 (397,000) were sunburnt on an average summer weekend in 2006/7.

Chair of the Cancer Council's National Skin Cancer Committee Mr Craig Sinclair said the research showed the Australian Government's national skin cancer awareness campaign encouraged life-saving behaviours and should be run every summer.

"Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world, but 2006 was the first time there has ever been a national skin cancer prevention advertising campaign," Mr Sinclair said. "This survey shows we need ongoing commitment, with an advertising 'blitz' every summer to remind people to be SunSmart."

The Cancer Council also today launched an emotional new television commercial, featuring Clare Oliver, who died of melanoma in September of last year, aged just 26. Ms Oliver's message to young people in the new commercial is to shun a tan and 'choose to be fair.'

"As Clare's tragic story shows, no tan is worth dying for," Mr Sinclair said. "We hope this new television commercial will help change any complacency about skin cancer, by showing the potentially fatal consequences of tanning, whether it be in the sun or in a solarium."

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