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Be sun smart this summer

By Michelle Monaghan

SLIP, SLOP, SLAP, SEEK AND SLIDE! This is the slogan I hear every summer back home in Australia. The words are sung in a catchy tune by Sid the Seagull, who has appeared in two variations of the message since the early 1980s. The slogan was created by the Cancer Council and is part of their SunSmart campaign to encourage people to protect themselves from the sun.  

Although the UK summer is nowhere near the extreme temperatures that Australia is known for. It’s still crucial to be sun smart this summer. According to new research by the University of Oxford, climate change will cause more heatwaves like the record-breaking one from last summer. The rate at which the hottest days are warming is double compared to regular summer days.

Hotter summers mean the risk of skin cancer will increase too. Cancer Research UK found an average of 16,744 new cases of melanoma skin cancer each year between 2016 and 2018. Nearly 90% of skin cancer cases are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation. It’s from spending too much time in the sun when doing activities such as spending too many hours sunbathing, swimming for prolonged periods in the sun and going to holiday destinations with round-the-clock sunlight. 

So, what can you do this summer to be sun smart and for others around you? 

Wear clothing that covers up as much skin as possible. I know it’s easy to say because when it’s over thirty degrees Celsius, you don’t want to wear something with long sleeves that clings to your body. You don’t have to go to the extreme and wear a onesie but think about trading in a sleeveless top for one that covers your shoulders. Or swap your low-neck shirt for one with a collar? 

Sunscreen is your new best friend this summer! As someone with very fair skin, I learnt the danger of not wearing sunscreen the hard way. Let’s just say a bright red back, neck and shoulders is not a comfortable feeling or quick to get rid of. Sunscreens with a Sun Protection Rating (SPF) of 30 or higher are recommended. Remember to reapply it after any water-based activity or every 2 hours. 

Have a spot where you can chill out in the shade for some respite from the sun. We all love to take advantage of the sun, especially since we live in a very wet and cold country. But we need to allow our bodies equal exposure to sunshine and shade to stay safe and healthy. 

Finally, slide on those new sunglasses you’ve been waiting to wear and chuck on a hat! You’ll not only stop yourself from looking into the light (literally!), but the Cancer Council says you can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98%

In the heat of the moment, I know it can be easy to forget the tips I just listed, but it’s important not to ignore them. Many people across the UK die from the heatwaves and nearly 86% of melanoma skin cancer cases in the UK are preventable.

So why not follow an Aussie’s advice and get the kids learning how to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide this summer?

You can visit the following links for more information about staying sun-smart and skin cancer.

Be SunSmart (Cancer Council: https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/be-sunsmart

Skin Cancer (Cancer Research): https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/skin-cancer

Sunscreen and sun safety (NHS): https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/