Sometimes parents teach us what to do and other times they're a cautionary tale of what not to do. When my Dad moved from Scotland to Australia decades ago, little did he know the toll it would take on his fair skin. Sun loving dad would even apply oil in an attempt to tan while playing golf in the extreme heat of FNQLD. Today I can thank him for my collection of broad rimmed hats and sun safe habits. He inspired me to write a report in the 2023 annual edition of WellBeing Magazine. Here's an extract to remind you to slip on a shirt, slap on sunscreen and slap on a hat.
Dark Side of the Sun
The Sun, the hearth of affection and life, pours burning love on the delighted earth.
- Arthur Rimbaud
Sun lovers relish bright days but it’s easy to get too much of a good thing. Sun damage is glaringly obvious when you compare chronically UV exposed skin to covered skin in an elderly person. It’s like crocodile skin next to baby skin. The sun causes cosmetic effects such as collagen loss, freckles, keratosis, moles and wrinkling, but deeper damage is the major concern. Excess UV is even insidiously injurious on cool, overcast days or in solariums. Despite the increased education regarding sun safety, a 2022 survey of 1,000 people by the American Academy of Dermatology revealed 27% said they thought having a base tan decreased the risk of developing skin cancer (it doesn't) and another 38% said tanning was safe as long as they didn't burn - another fallacy.
Black mole sun
In 2022, “Australian women were estimated to have a 1 in 21 chance of being diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 85, whereas men were estimated to have a 1 in 14 risk,” according to the Cancer Council Australia. Australia’s skin cancer rate is linked to equator proximity, a high percentage of fair skinned residents and a love of the outdoors. Other risk factors include a family history of skin cancer and previous sun damage.
There are three main types of skin cancer - basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma, the deadliest one. In 2017 skin melanoma of the skin was the fourth commonest cancer in Australia. If addressed early, skin cancer treatment is often effective but damage can take decades to become apparent.