Skin Cancer, Sun Safety, Melanoma Awareness
Above: Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates out of any country in the world today.
Understanding the cost of tanning and sun damage
According to a number of recent studies, the skin cancer situation in and around Australia may be a more serious problem than previously thought. The latest research suggests that over the course of our lifetimes, two in every three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they reach 70 years old. This means that Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates out of any country in the world today.
Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are particularly prevalent, being attributed to more than five times the frequency of all other forms of cancer combined.
They account for more than 25% of all cancer-related hospitalisations in 2014 and 2015. This amounts to roughly 2,500 skin cancer treatments every single day.
The rate of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer in Australia can be attributed to a large number of factors.
Part of it simply has to do with the climate. It’s warmer and sunnier in Australia than in other parts of the world. But another far more pressing reason can be summed up in a single yet frustrating word: Perspective.
Above: Excessive sunbathing can cause skin damage which can lead to skin cancer.
Living in a sunburnt country: How tanning attitudes affect cancer
If you had to make a list of all the activities that you look forward to the most during the warm summer months, going outdoors, having fun at the beach, and getting a great tan would undoubtedly be right at the top. After all, when you live in a country where millions of people from around the world visit to do these very things, it would be a waste not to enjoy them as often as possible when given the opportunity.
But at the same time, this is exactly the problem that leads to more than 2,000 deaths each year from skin cancer.
Above: Did you know people who use a tanning beds before the age of 35 increase their risk for skin cancer by 75%!
The actual cost of tanning
Despite more than three decades of mass government campaigns trying to raise a greater awareness to skin cancer and the associated risk factors, tanning is still seen as something of a “sexy” proposition. It’s a way to get that summer look that you want after a long period indoors, and many people still tie the quality of their tan directly into their own image of their self and self-worth.
But by looking at sun tanning as a healthy, leisurely activity, you’re failing to see it for what it really is: skin cells in trauma.
Whether you get a tan on the beach or at home, you’re still talking about the same thing: UV damage and massive amounts of it everywhere on your body. Your skin cells are being damaged intentionally in ways that not only lead to wrinkles, lax skin, brown spots, and other signs of premature ageing, but also the many different types of skin cancer that are so common in Australia and elsewhere around the world.
According to a study conducted by the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk for skin cancer (and melanoma in particular) by a massive 75%. UV radiation is proven to cause cancer. It really doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.
Yet despite the fact that this is all based on proven science, skin cancer is still increasing in Australia. Somehow, the mentality of young adolescents in particular towards the natural appeal of tanning has led to a massive regression backwards in this regard.
Consider the fact that according to most recent information, the vast majority of permanent skin cell damage is done before someone reaches the age of 15 — meaning, for thousands of Australians, they’ve already done the type of serious damage that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
If nothing, this helps to confirm that attitudes still have a long, long way to go moving forward.
Above: Even incidental sun exposure can increase your melanoma risk, which is why it’s crucial to have your skin and moles thoroughly checked, early and often.
A change in attitude is a change in perspective
The most important thing for you to understand about all of this is that there is no form of tanning that is “safe” in terms of skin cancer prevention.
If you’re going to be outdoors for long periods of time, you need to make sure that you’re using the adequate type and amount of protection. This is especially true if you have the type of career that finds you outside more often than you’re in.
Secondly, you need to take a proactive approach to skin cancer detection and treatment moving forward. Whether you have a suspicious mole or you’re legitimately concerned about your health and appearance, the best defence truly is a good offence in this case.
MoleMap: Your partner in proactive health
You also need to understand that there are certain people who are considered high-risk for various forms of skin cancer, even going beyond the lifestyle that most Australians live. These include, but are not limited to, those with fair skin, those with many moles and freckles, those with a family history of skin cancer, those in their 40s and 50s, etc.
If you want to find out more about why your attitudes towards tanning must change if you’re going to continue living in this sunburnt country, or if you’d like to find out more about the skin cancer detection program that we provide, don’t delay — contact MoleMap today.
Note: This quick questionnaire is designed to give you an idea of your personal skin cancer risk factors.
It isn’t intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis – please contact us if you have any questions about your skin cancer risk.
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