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 protect your skin you can significantly reduce your risk of all skin cancers?
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.
Find out more about UV exposure and cancer prevention.
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.