Sloppy funding gets slapped in skin cancer slip


Australian teens are just as sunburned as they were at the turn of the millennium due to a lack of investment in preventing skin cancer, according to researchers at the Cancer Council.

The rate of teenage sunburns has not declined since the early 2000s, and more than a quarter of teens reported getting sunburned on summer weekends in a country with the one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

Research by members of the Cancer Council, posted online Sunday, indicates a lack of government investment in skin cancer prevention, which the authors say “appears to have fallen victim to its own success.”

Authors of the research papers include Cancer Council Skin Cancer Committee Chair Heather Walker.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Slip, Slop, Slap sunburn awareness campaign, which, with the 1988 SunSmart program, made Australia a ‘world leader in skin cancer prevention‘, according to the researchers.

While melanoma rates among young people have plummeted as a result of the campaign, skin cancer still kills nearly 2,000 Australians a year and costs the health care system more than any other cancer, at around 1.68 billion dollars a year.

The research criticizes the lack of federal and state investment in skin cancer prevention, but notes that the proposed new national preventive health strategy includes a commitment to a cancer prevention media campaign. .

“Sustained and continuous cancer prevention efforts are essential to integrate and reinforce health-promoting behaviors and to increase participation in cancer screening programs,” notes the project.

The Cancer Council estimates the cost of a properly funded campaign at $ 20 million per year, or “just over one percent of the annual cost of treating skin cancer.”

Research cited in the new article found that “sun protection behaviors increase as advertising for skin cancer prevention campaigns increases, and they decrease when advertising is absent.”

Adolescent tan-friendly teens presented an ongoing challenge, although the numbers rose from 60% to 38% of teens stating that they “preferred a tan”.

Surveys conducted by the Cancer Council in the summer of 2016-17 revealed that 26% of adolescents had been recently burned, the same as in 2003-04.

Early childhood learning and elementary schools have undergone cultural changes to improve sun protection, but this is not the case in high schools, the researchers say.

The authors call on state governments to make UV protection mandatory for adolescents in the same way that the sale of items such as tobacco and alcohol to minors is prohibited.

With employers having a duty to protect staff from ultraviolet rays as an occupational health and safety issue, “we are in an unacceptable situation where a parent could be better protected against a known carcinogen at work than their child. is in the school playground, ”say the researchers.


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