14 August 2001
Teens Urged To Take Care In The Sun
New Zealand teens are being urged to “slip, slop, slap and wrap’ this summer to avoid sunburn. The call follows the publication of a study that found that almost one in three teens sampled had been sunburned during a single summer weekend.
The study, carried out by researchers based in the Dunedin School of Medicine*, also found that fewer than half of adolescents who were outside between 11am and 4pm wore sunscreen and only a quarter wore hats. Sunscreen was reapplied by fewer than half of those who used it. This was a serious problem as those who used sunscreen but did not reapply it, had a greater risk of sunburn.
“While many teens are aware that they should be wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, and seeking shade, they are not translating this knowledge into action” says the Cancer Society’s Liz Price.
“Excessive sun exposure is linked to melanoma - particularly occasional severe sun exposure which results in sunburn. The frustrating thing is that melanoma is largely preventable - by staying out of the sun between 11 and 4, and covering up and using sunscreen when in the sun.
“Teens need to take these actions whether they are playing sport, walking to the shops, or just sitting outdoors.
“There is also a role here for local bodies to provide more shade at popular public places like beaches and sports grounds. Local councils and other organisations can help make it easier for teens to protect themselves from the sun by providing attractive and convenient shaded areas.”
Liz Price says New Zealand has among the highest melanoma incidence and death rates in the world - around 1,600 new cases and 200 deaths a year. Reducing sunburn during childhood and adolescence is particularly beneficial in reducing melanoma risk.
The study, recently published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, involved contacting individuals aged 12-17 years on a Monday night and asking about their activities during the previous summer weekend. This gave researchers a “snapshot’ of typical adolescent behaviour over a summer weekend.
For further information contact:
Liz Price Iain Potter
Health Promotion Programme Manager Director
CANCER SOCIETY OF NEW ZEALAND HEALTH SPONSORSHIP COUNCIL
- *The study was carried out by the Social and Behavioural Research in Cancer Group. The group receives funding from the Cancer Society of New Zealand, the Health Sponsorship Council and the University of Otago.