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Protect yourself from UV this autumn

Photo – SunSmart

Just because summer’s behind us, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

SunSmart is encouraging Victorians to slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide on sunglasses, when enjoying the outdoors in these autumn months, as ultraviolet (UV) radiation is expected reach high levels across the state.

This reminder comes in response to new data from Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer Sun Observation Study, which observed more than 2,200 people in streets and at cafés in selected locations across Victoria during summer 2020.

The study found that only 4 per cent wore a sun protective hat and just 32 per cent were wearing sunglasses. In this instance, protective hats refer to broad-brimmed and legionnaire styles that cover the face, ears, and neck.

Similarly, the study found of the more than 1,900 people observed in public parks and gardens, 6 per cent were wearing a protective hat and 42 per cent were wearing sunglasses.

Head of SunSmart, Emma Glassenbury, is urging Victorians heading outdoors to use all five forms of sun protection, to reduce their risk of UV harm.

“Exposure to UV can cause eye and skin damage, premature ageing, and ongoing UV exposure can ultimately lead to skin cancer,” Ms Glassenbury said.

“We need Victorians to slip on protective clothing, slop on sunscreen every two hours, slap on a hat which is either broad-brimmed or a legionnaire style, seek shade and slide on sunglasses when the UV level is three or above.”

Australia has one of the highest UV levels and rates of skin cancer cases in the world, with two in three Aussies expected to be diagnosed in their lifetime.

However, up to 95 per cent of melanoma and 99 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancer are a result of over exposure to UV radiation, making skin cancer almost entirely preventable through sun protection habits.

Chief Radiation Health Scientist for the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Dr Rick Tinker, supports SunSmart’s reminder of UV harm, including to your eyes.

“Evidence shows that exposure to UV radiation can cause severe damage to the eyes, including cataracts and acute photo-keratitis. UV radiation is completely invisible and can be a result of the direct sun or its reflection, so the use of sunglasses is a great way of reducing your eye exposure and, in turn, preventing eye damage in the future,” Dr Tinker said.

To get advice, download the SunSmart Global UV App to access daily sun protection times and live UV forecasts based on your location.

SunSmart Global UV app is free for download through the Apple and Google Play Stores at sunsmart.com.au/resources/sunsmart-app.