UV exposure and cancer
Did you know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes more than 95% of all skin cancers?
Did you know if you’ve had cancer, living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent it from coming back?
How UV exposure increases cancer risk
UV radiation comes in different wavelengths called Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). Both UVA and UVB contribute to sunburn, skin ageing, eye damage, melanoma and other skin cancers. UVA penetrates deeply into the skin causing damage to cells, photo-ageing such as wrinkles and pigmentation, and immune-suppression. UVB penetrates the top layer of the skin causing damage to the cells and is the wavelength responsible for sunburn, a significant risk factor for melanoma. UV levels 3 and above are high enough to cause damage to most skin types.
To find out your cancer risk, take the Cancer Risk Quiz.
Cancer Council recommendations
When UV levels are 3 and above use a combination of sun protection measures to reduce your risk of skin cancer: clothing, sunscreen, hats, shade and sunglasses.
Tips to reduce your cancer risk:
- Slip on clothing that covers as much skin as possible, is made of a tightly-woven fabric and is a dark colour
- Slop on at least broad-spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen liberally 20 minutes before going outside to allow it to bind to the skin and reapply every 2 hours
- Slap on a wide-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire-style hat to protect the face, neck and ears
- Seek shade such as under verandahs, pergolas, gazebos, trees or a sail cloth
- Slide on close-fitting wraparound sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard
- To find out how to protect yourself properly with sunscreen, watch this video
- Check UV levels for your local area by downloading the free SunSmart UV Alert app on iPhones from the App Store or for Android through Google Play
- If you’ve had cancer, visit Life after cancer treatment to find out what support is available