Melanoma Awareness, Skin Cancer, Sun Safety

Australia: The global hot spot for skin cancer

The consequences of the Australian sun-worshipping culture

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 25/01/18
Australia has the highest skin cancer diagnosis in the world

Australia, and particularly in Queensland, has one of the highest rates of skin cancer and melanoma worldwide. Much of this has to do with the nation's love for the outdoors, our sun-worshipping culture, and our geographic location.

Facts about Australia‘s global skin cancer hotspot: Queensland
Queensland has the highest skin cancer prevalence rate, according to Cancer Council Queensland. Between the years 2009 through 2013, the incidence rate for melanoma was 71 cases per 100,000 individuals.

Each year, there are over 3,600 Queenslanders who receive a melanoma diagnosis, and estimates are that more than 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancer cases receive treatment.

Cancer Council gave Queenslanders an urgent warning to stay proactive with sun safety since their demographics, climate, culture, and hobbies make them more susceptible to skin cancer.

Queenslanders are more susceptible to skin cancer because of the state’s proximity to the equator and its large fair-skinned, fair-haired population.

Queenslanders live close to the equator
Because of this, it’s presumed they get more sun exposure, putting them at a 60% higher skin cancer rate than the rest of the population in Australia.

For instance, Brisbane is approximately 1,889 miles to the equator. This means the city is much closer to the equator than other areas of the world. In comparison, Melbourne is 2,616 miles from the equator.

A large part of the population has fair skin and fair hair
Although anybody can get melanoma and skin cancer, it’s the fair-skinned, fair-haired individuals that are most vulnerable.

They have less melanin than others of darker complexion. Melanin is a type of protective pigment, and it leaves people at an increased risk for sunburn, skin cancer, and other skin damages related to the sun.

Australia is a predominantly fair-skinned population, and we tend to be out in the sun more frequently than others because we love the outdoors.

Sun exposure can lead to skin cancer

Above: Tanning means you’ve already exposed yourself to enough UV rays that it’s now damaging your skin. 

Australia’s sun-worshipping culture
Our love for the outdoors is widely known — whether it involves sports, tanning, or leisure activities. These activities not only increase our risk of being sunburnt but also increase our risk of sun cancer.

Hobbies and sports
As a global hotspot, our country has a picture-perfect climate for an outdoor lifestyle — and this means, more time in the sun playing in sports and hanging out in parks or on beaches. Sports such as rugby and cricket are a few examples of the sports Aussies regularly engage in. Another activity they love is barbecuing and outdoor grilling in public parks. In Western Sydney Parklands alone, it has 66 barbecues and they’re free to use.

Tanning is a huge part of our culture. Nearly half of adults think tans look healthy, according to Cancer Council Australia. However, a tan isn’t a sign of good wellbeing or health, no matter how we view it.

Tanning means you’ve already exposed yourself to enough UV rays that it’s now damaging your skin. This is going to eventually cause the following:

  • Sagging
  • Wrinkles
  • Loose elasticity
  • Brown patches
  • Yellowish discolouration

Worse — this sun worshipping has also increased the risk of skin cancer.

The Outdoors
The amazing blue skies, breath-taking seas, and beautiful landscapes make our country the perfect place to chill out and relax. Beach culture typically means thongs, swimmers, and t-shirts that show more skin. In this type of environment, many socialise and lounge around outdoors, exposing themselves to even more sun.

Sunbathing can cause skin cancer

Above: Sun exposure is truly the biggest culprit of skin cancer.

The Staggering Implications of Australia's Lifestyle & Risk Factors

The implication is in the numbers. Of all newly diagnosed cancers each year in Australia, 80% are skin cancers. Further, in 2014 alone, there were about 2,067 individuals in Australia who died from skin cancer (600 non-melanoma and 1,467 melanoma). Sun exposure is truly the biggest culprit of skin cancer.

Skin and mole check at Molemap

Above: A regular mole check can help prevent melanoma.

Importance of Skin Cancer and Melanoma Detection

Skin cancer awareness is the highest its been in history. However, for many Australians, the damage was done decades before we knew the real danger of our outdoors lifestyle. Due to the increasing population and ageing, skin cancer rates in the country are expected to increase.

It's vital that you have your skin checked regularly for new moles, changes in existing moles, lesions, and other signs of skin cancer. Book your MoleMap screening today for early detection and effective treatment. When spotted early, melanoma is nearly 100% curable.

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