Australian residents, particularly the younger generations, are being warned to be more vigilant with their daily sun protection and improve their overall sun safety habits.
SunSense, which boast the highest level of UV protection in Australia, completed its UV Photobus road show after touring to 19 metro, coastal and regional locations throughout NSW, QLD and VIC. The free, roving skin check program aimed to uncover Australia's hidden UV damage one UV skin analysis at a time, as well as measuring the nation's -SunSensibility'. Some interesting findings from the community health project include:
With years more sun exposure and less education of the harmful effects of the sun, it is surprising to see that the Silent Generation (age 61+) and Baby Boomers have less sun damaged skin than younger generations. This is a worrying finding considering the intense sun-safety education efforts over the past 30 years; it shows we've still got a long way to go.
Gen Y = 48% Gen X = 47% Baby Boomers = 54% Silent Generation = 61%
Australia's average SunSensibility score was 51%. Coastal regions fared better than their country town counterparts in the SunSensibility stakes, scoring 53% compared to an average score of 46% in regional areas.
Unexpectedly, the region with the highest SunSensibility rating was Bondi Beach with a score of 61%. Dubbo didn't fare so well with the lowest average score of 41% and therefore the worst UV skin damage recorded.
In the regions race, metro dwellers boasted the highest average SunSensibility score (54%), with coastal residents coming in at 52% and country folk falling below average with a score of 46%.
Three-time Olympic gold medallist, Matt Welsh and TV favourite, Catriona Rowntree visited the SunSense UV Photobus to have their skin checked and show their support for the important community initiative that is set to hit the roads again in late 2012.
'Being a former Olympic swimmer, I can't even begin to calculate the hours I've spent training outdoors. Being sun-safe was, and still is, a huge part of my life and now something Lauren [Newton] and I instil as parents of a young family (Sam, 4 and Eva, 2). Aussies love the sun but it's too easy to forget or become blasé about sun protection because we spend so much time outdoors.
The SunSense UV Photobus provides an important service to all Australians for free so there are no excuses; I've had my hidden UV damage checked and come out at a mediocre 54%. The consultation provides the opportunity to look at the damage we may be doing and change our behaviour to protect ourselves from the sun's harmful rays before it is too late." says Olympian Matt Welsh.
1,422 UV photographs were taken over a six week SunSense UV Photobus tour, with each photograph highlighting an individual's UV damage, invisible to the naked eye, yet still concerning. The UV camera penetrates the skin determining the skin's existing damage which is then assessed to produce a percentile score or SunSensibility score.
'Sunburn can happen in as little as 10 minutes and the damage is cumulative, so don't think a little redness here and there is OK. The national SunSensibility score is only 51%, showing that there's plenty of room for improvement. It's imperative we try to improve our nation's SunSensibility and each learn to protect ourselves better from becoming another skin cancer statistic." says Catriona Rowntree.
With a national average of 51 out of a possible 100 points, Dr. Kerryn Greive PhD, Ego Pharmaceuticals says while most of us are doing a good job in the sun protection stakes, there's always room for improvement.
'It's imperative we take care of our skin all year round, and one of the best ways to do this is to ensure applying and wearing sunscreen is a part of your daily routine. The Australian sun is among the harshest in the world and as a result over 430,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year – that's over 1,000 people every day². Be sure to reapply regularly, and you're on your way to healthier skin." explains Greive.
For more information on the SunSense UV Photobus tour and SunSense products, visit www.sunsense.com.au