Slip, slop, slap crisis: Shock figures show we’ve forgotten message

 

Queensland is sitting on a skin cancer time bomb with more than half of adults and nearly as many children being sunburned in frightening figures that show the state has forgotten the 'slip, slop, slap' message.

In a shocking report card, Queensland Health data shows 49 per cent of adults and 45 per cent of children were sunburnt in the past 12 months.

That's nearly 2.4 million people suffering serious sun damage, with almost 10 per cent being scorched so badly they had blistering burns.

But even more worrying for cancer experts is the finding that 32 per cent, or nearly a third of Queensland children, had been burnt five or more times - enough to increase the risk of melanoma three-fold.

Queensland Cancer Council says skin cancer detections are growing at 1.4 per cent a year.

The Cancer Council fears past cuts to public health messaging means young people are not being told of the dangers of the sun and that parents of young children have forgotten the dangers to their kids.

They have called on the State Government to reinstate the modern slip, slop, slap message with a $3m-a-year publicity campaign.

Brothers Theo, 5, and Archie Johnson, 3, whose mum Amy always makes sure they are covered up in the sun at home in Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: Lachie Millard
Brothers Theo, 5, and Archie Johnson, 3, whose mum Amy always makes sure they are covered up in the sun at home in Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: Lachie Millard

Cancer Council skin cancer national committee chair Paige Preston said past campaigns had changed sun behaviour but Queenslanders needed to be reminded to cover up.

"We've had some great successes," Ms Preston said.

"But there is a lag time between when they are exposed and when we see the skin cancer.

"So what we don't want to see is poor behaviours now and sunburns now and then a spike in skin cancer rates in years to come.

"That's why we are asking for a mass media campaign in Queensland to remind Queenslanders about sun protection and skin cancer.

"We haven't had anything like that in about a decade now and we do know the message is being forgotten and we do know that those things need to be reiterated and at front of mind."

Sunshine Coast mum Amy Johnson said the child sunburn figures were "horrifying".

She said she kept her boys Archie, Theo and Zac covered in sunscreen and rash shirts and out of the sun during the harshest hours in the middle of the day.

Like most parents, she said she concentrated on keeping her kids sun safe.

"I do a good job on the kids but a terrible job on myself," Ms Johnson said.

Originally from England, she said the Queensland sun was the harshest she'd seen.

"I think people forget the consequences," Ms Johnson said.

Ted Hawkins, 73, gets his skin checked every 28 days for skin cancer. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Ted Hawkins, 73, gets his skin checked every 28 days for skin cancer. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Caboolture's Ted Hawkins is walking proof the damage the Queensland sun can exact.

Mr Hawkins, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran, said he tried to cover up his fair skin whenever possible but still received sun damage.

He's had a series of skin operations, including one spot on his neck that, if it hadn't been caught in time, would have killed him in six months, he said.

He now has to have his skin checked every 28 days, and regularly has skin frozen or cut out.

"I've seen people die of melanomas," Mr Hawkins said.

"When in doubt, cut it out is my ethos."

A Queensland Health spokesperson said it provided $2.2m a year to the Cancer Council for services including sun safety programs.

"Queensland remains the melanoma capital of the world and we are working hard to reduce unsafe sun exposure and future skin cancer risk," they said.

"In recent years, the Queensland Government has delivered social marketing campaigns targeting young people such as Sun Mum and Sun Squad as well as the broader community through the Feel Good Facts campaigns.

"We've also recently partnered with Surf Life Saving Queensland for the Sun Safe Partnership, which will help up to 1.2m children protect their skin during community events like Beach Safe Schools, Little Lifesavers and Beach to Bush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Slip, slop, slap crisis: Shock figures show we've forgotten message



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