DON'T CLOUD THE SUN-SAFE MESSAGE
8 December 2018
Mark Whittaker’s ‘Here comes the sun; Defending our summer rays’ (GW 24 Nov) clouds the sun-safe message – which could have disastrous consequences. The scientific evidence is clear and undisputable that UV exposure and the damage it causes is the single greatest risk factor for developing melanoma. UV radiation damages skin cells and causes mutations in DNA. And melanoma kills. It is the most common cancer affecting 15 to 39 year old Australians, and kills one Australian every five hours.
Sunshine isn’t the culprit here, but excess sunshine is. We enjoy our iconic Aussie outdoor lifestyle as much as the next person. But with one of the highest melanoma rates in the world, all Australians, including Good Weekend writers and editors, have a responsibility to advocate for enjoying sunshine safely. Living a sun-safe life is as simple as wearing a broad-brimmed hat, using 50+ sunscreen, covering up with long pants, sleeves and sunglasses, and seeking shade in the hottest part of the day.
By alluding to the many possible therapeutic benefits of sunshine while at the same time questioning whether his sunscreen use is ‘doing any good’, Mark Whittaker is doing all Australians a disservice. His reference to a small 1998 German study about possible therapeutic benefits of tanning beds is also dangerous. How many of those 18 participants went on to develop melanoma from their sunbed use? Melanoma Institute Australia led the campaign to have commercial sunbeds banned across the country due to their high melanoma risk, with many states in the USA following suit andthe UK now lobbying for a similar ban.
Mark also uses the anomaly of why some people develop melanoma but others don’t, to question how sun exposure can be to blame. The answer lies in genetics – and not in undermining the dangerous impact of UV exposure. Our researchers have discovered many of the hereditary genes that explain why some people get melanoma and others do not. A simple glance at the DNA of skin melanomas shows that nearly all have been caused by sun damage.
Sunshine may well have many therapeutic benefits, but questioning long-held and scientifically proven evidence about sunscreen and the link between UV exposure and melanoma is dangerous. And the cusp of summer, when UV levels are at their highest and most damaging, is not the time to be playing Devil’s Advocate.
While we at Melanoma Institute Australia are investing in research and trialling new melanoma treatments, as well as educating the community about the need to protect themselves from the sun, it is frustrating and disheartening to see Good Weekend clouding the issue about sun exposure and potentially undermining our efforts to save lives.
Just as we will continue to fight to save the lives of melanoma patients, many in their teens, 20s and 30s, we will continue to espouse the danger of excessive sun exposure and advocate for living a sun-safe life.
And Mark, please use that Sun Smart app. It just may save your life.
Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer
Melanoma Institute Australia
For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Durante |Melanoma Institute Australia | 0412 798 990 |firstname.lastname@example.org
Come and join us for a trivia night with Jay and his crew to raise funds for the ABC-X trial!
Cancer Council awards Melanoma Institute Australia researchers funding for ground-breaking cancer research projects
Almost $9 million of new funding was awarded to 13 ground-breaking cancer research projects at the 2019 Cancer Council NSW Research Awards.
Georgina V. Long is co-medical director of Melanoma Institute Australia and Chair of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research. She is the first woman president of the Society for Melanoma Research.
Quintessential Aussie girl and media personality Sophie Monk has been announced as a National Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign, Melanoma March.
Australian researchers have for the first time identified specific cells and receptors in the immune system which predict how a patient will respond to treatment with immunotherapies, potentially paving the way for the development of personalised therapy for all cancer patients.
Melanoma March is thrilled to introduce Ricky as our official Principal Partner for 2019!
World record holder, Olympian and Australian swimming champion Cate Campbell has been announced as National Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign, Melanoma March.
MIA's expertise was essential to a recent Nature publication spearheaded by Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Melbourne.
MIA is delighted to be hosting the MD Anderson pathologist on his first ever trip to Australia.
Clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community are invited to make submissions in support of the PBS listing for dabrafenib and trametinib.
Three students from Arden Anglican School in Epping have won Melanoma Institute Australia’s (MIA) inaugural SunSafe Student Ambassador Award.
Mark Whittaker’s ‘Here comes the sun; Defending our summer rays’ (GW 24 Nov) clouds the sun-safe message – which could have disastrous consequences.
Professor Georgina Long is among only 12 researchers from the University of Sydney to be named in the 2018 Highly Cited Researchers List.
‘Wearing sunscreen should be as automatic as wearing a seatbelt. Both are potential life savers.’
The Poche Centre to host 3D total-body imaging system as part of world-first initiative to save lives from melanoma
A prestigious $10 million Australian Cancer Research Foundation grant has been awarded to ACEMID, an initiative that aims to use 3D total-body imaging and a remote medicine network to improve the detection and diagnosis of early-stage melanoma.
Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer have been recognised as world leaders in melanoma research for their ground-breaking work that has changed the diagnosis and treatment landscape of melanoma world-wide, and tripled the life-expectancy of advanced melanoma patients.
Leading researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia have taken out the top accolades at the NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research.
An impressive contingent of female delegates from Melanoma Institute Australia have presented findings across the whole spectrum of melanoma research at the Society for Melanoma Research 2018 Congress in Manchester, England.
Over 800 researchers and clinicians from around the world were welcomed to Manchester for the 15th International Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research (SMR). Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) has again sent an impressive number of delegates to present both oral presentations and posters with the latest in translational research.
Professor Georgina Long makes history as the first woman and first Australian to lead the Society for Melanoma Research
Professor Georgina Long makes history as the first woman and first Australian to lead the world’s most prestigious international melanoma research association.