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Dark Side of Tanning campaign conveys deadly message to young Victorians this summer

Thursday 2 December, 2010

With summer approaching, SunSmart is launching a graphic melanoma awareness campaign targeting young people and urging all Victorians to be better prepared for the outdoors this season.

SunSmart Manager Sue Heward said research into sun protection behaviours last summer shows young people are still not heeding the SunSmart message.

"Less than a third of 13-34 year olds surveyed reported using sunscreen while outdoors during peak ultraviolet (UV) times and only nine percent reported they re-applied sunscreen every two hours," said Ms Heward.

"The survey also revealed just seven percent wore a wide-brimmed hat and less than a quarter wore a three-quarter or long-sleeved top.

"These are concerning behaviours and we are advising Victorians, especially adolescents and young adults, to be sun savvy this summer," she said.

Ms Heward said as we enter the peak UV season in Victoria, it is critical people are protecting their skin as it is UV that causes sunburn, tanning, skin and eye damage and skin cancer - not the temperature or amount of sunshine.

"The Dark Side of Tanning campaign is a graphic reminder of the damaging impact of overexposure to UV radiation and the deadly nature of melanoma, which is the second most common cancer in Victorians aged 13-29," said Ms Heward.

"Melanoma only has to be 1mm deep to be dangerous and it can spread and reappear in vital organs even years after it has been cut out of the skin," she said.

VicHealth CEO Todd Harper added: "I am confident this summer campaign will drive the message home that tanning is not cool or healthy - it's dangerous and deadly."

Two television commercials are running as part of the campaign, targeting both young men and women.

"Cancer Council research indicates that young females are more likely to deliberately tan, whereas males are more likely to get sunburnt than females as they tend to spend more time outside and are less likely to use sun protection," said Ms Heward.

"The Dark Side of Tanning is a confronting campaign that defies current tanning attitudes by demonstrating that there's nothing healthy about a tan, it's actually a sign of your skin cells in trauma.

"We know that childhood and adolescence are critical periods during which sun exposure is more likely to contribute to skin cancer in later life.

"Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet Australian adolescents have by far the highest incidence of malignant melanoma in the world," she said.

Ms Heward said, "SunSmart is urging everyone to be sun savvy this summer and remember sun protection. Check out the UV Alert each day on or on the SunSmart iPhone app and make sure you know when you need sun protection before heading out."

About the campaign

The Dark Side of Tanning campaign was developed by the Cancer Institute NSW and first ran in Victoria in 2009-10. The campaign will feature again in Victoria from late November 2010 and continue throughout the summer.

The state-wide campaign is broadcast on television, cinema, digital and outdoor media.

Results from Victoria's first campaign in 2009-10 showed six in 10 respondents said it had made them less likely to get a suntan and that they had increased or intended to increase their level of sun protection.

The majority of the 13-34 year olds surveyed agreed it ‘made me think it is dangerous to tan' and 71 per cent of respondents said it ‘made me stop and think.'

SunSmart tips for this summer

Preparation is the key to protecting yourself in the sun so check the daily SunSmart UV alert on your phone or online before heading out and note the time of the day that sun protection is required. Remember to use a combination of the five SunSmart steps. Never just rely on one form of protection.

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing - that covers as much skin as possible.
  2. Slop on SPF30+ broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out and make sure to take a bottle or tube with you so you can re-apply every two hours.
  3. Slap on a hat - a wide-brimmed hat will protect your face, head, neck and ears. Baseball caps do not provide enough coverage.
  4. Seek shade
  5. Slide on some sunglasses - make sure they meet Australian Standards, are close-fitting and cover as much of the eye area as possible.

The SunSmart app is now available to download for free from the iTunes App Store.

The SunSmart UV Alert is also available in weather section of daily newspapers and on the Bureau of Meteorology website.