Excellent question. The answer is……. well, there are a lot of answers. A combination of factors, some in our control and some not, combine to make a perfect storm for skin cancer.
Anyone who grew up in Australia is at risk of skin cancer. The more UV radiation we are exposed to, and the greater the number of sunburns we experience when we are young, the higher our future skin cancer risk. This is because when we are younger, our skin is thinner and more susceptible to UV damage.
In Australia, we experience very high levels of UV. It’s a simple case of geography. Australia is closer to the equator than other countries, which means UV has a shorter path to travel to reach us here. Add to that the fact that we have plenty of clear-sky days, and this equates to more intense UV.
While Australia is very multicultural, many of us have English or European descendants, and that often brings with it fair skin and fair hair. And as we know (and many of us will have first-hand experience), fair skin does not react well to the sun.
In some circles, there is a desire for a tan or a ‘healthy’ glow that is still lingering. Fashion and beauty companies have undoubtedly played a role here. In reality however, a tan is anything but healthy. People who deliberately tan are just damaging their skin and increasing their skin cancer risk.
Many of us are exposed to UV through a range of activities based on our lifestyle, recreation and employment. We have a sunny warm climate for much of the year so it’s no surprise us Aussies like to get out and about.
Apart from this, there’s other things such as having lots of freckles or moles, a family history of melanoma or not using sun protection that boosts the risk even higher.
Many of us will have several of the risk factors mentioned here. So while we can’t change some things about ourselves or our past behaviour, the path forward is clear. Using sun protection now will help to reduce your risk of adding to the skin cancer statistics.
Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world. Let’s do everything we can to turn this around. Find out the steps you can take right here at UV Daily.