DON'T CLOUD THE SUN-SAFE MESSAGE

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

Co-Medical Directors

Melanoma Institute Australia

 

For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Durante |Melanoma Institute Australia | 0412 798 990 |jennifer.durante@melanoma.org.au

A message to all Australians from melanoma patient Stuart Taylor
16 Dec 2020

A message to all Australians from melanoma patient Stuart Taylor

Stuart has advanced melanoma which is not responding to treatment. He has shared his story on ABC's 7:30 in the hope that others can escape the same fate. 

Tags: melanoma
Olivia Vivian nominates MIA as Charity Partner on Channel 9's Celebrity Apprentice.
02 Dec 2020

Olivia Vivian nominates MIA as Charity Partner on Channel 9's Celebrity Apprentice.

A Ninja Warrior legend and Olympic gymnast, Olivia knows first hand the devastating impact of melanoma.

Tags: melanoma
It's 'Game On Mole' this summer!
01 Dec 2020

It's 'Game On Mole' this summer!

All Australians are urged to join the fight against melanoma this summer. 

Tags: melanoma
Prof Richard Scolyer named Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year  
27 Nov 2020

Prof Richard Scolyer named Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year  

The ground-breaking work of MIA's Co-Medical Director Prof Richard Scolyer has been recognised with NSW’s highest accolade for cancer research. 

Tags: melanoma
Dr James Wilmott wins 2020 Wildfire Highly Cited Publication Award
24 Nov 2020

Dr James Wilmott wins 2020 Wildfire Highly Cited Publication Award

A landmark study led by MIA's Dr Willmott is making a difference to melanoma treatment around the globe.

Tags: melanoma
MIA researchers feature on prestigious Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List
18 Nov 2020

MIA researchers feature on prestigious Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List

The highly anticipated annual list is the “who’s who” of the scientific elite from across the globe.

Tags: melanoma
Game On Mole is back this summer!
13 Nov 2020

Game On Mole is back this summer!

The uniquely Aussie awareness campaign ‘Game On Mole’ is back for its second year – with a new look but same important message.

Tags: melanoma
RCPA recognition for Professor Richard Scolyer.
12 Nov 2020

RCPA recognition for Professor Richard Scolyer.

Professor Richard Scolyer receives The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Distinguished Fellow Award.

Tags: melanoma
Professor Georgina Long hands on baton of SMR Presidency
31 Oct 2020

Professor Georgina Long hands on baton of SMR Presidency

Professor Long cites as a highlight of her 2-year Presidency, the phenomenal research output by SMR members who have continued to lead the cancer field despite the impact of COVID-19.

Tags: melanoma
City2Surf 2020
11 Sep 2020

City2Surf 2020

Join in the fun of the virtual event, and together we can run over melanoma!

Tags: melanoma
Top melanoma experts from MIA
10 Sep 2020

Top melanoma experts at MIA

Melanoma Institute Australia features prominently in the latest ‘Expertise in Melanoma’ world rankings, released by Expertscape.

Tags: melanoma
Top melanoma experts from MIA
10 Sep 2020

Top melanoma experts from MIA

Melanoma Institute Australia features prominently in the latest ‘Expertise in Melanoma’ world rankings, released by Expertscape.

Tags: melanoma
Melanoma Supportive Care Needs research study. 
03 Sep 2020

Melanoma Supportive Care Needs research study. 

Participate in our online survey and help us understand the support needs of melanoma patients and carers.

Tags: melanoma
New data reveals long-term benefit of adjuvant therapy for Stage III melanoma.
03 Sep 2020

Research reveals long-term benefit of adjuvant therapy for Stage III melanoma

Updated results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Tags: melanoma
New data reveals long-term benefit of adjuvant therapy for Stage III melanoma.
03 Sep 2020

New data reveals long-term benefit of adjuvant therapy for Stage III melanoma.

Updated results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Tags: melanoma
New online melanoma risk calculators critical to saving lives
28 Aug 2020

New online melanoma risk calculators critical to saving lives

Clinicians and their patients now have access to three online risk calculators developed by researchers at Melanoma Institute Australia.

Tags: melanoma
Professor Richard Scolyer receives University of Sydney Alumni Award.
24 Aug 2020

Professor Richard Scolyer receives University of Sydney Alumni Award.

MIA's Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer has received The University of Sydney Alumni Award for International Achievement.

Tags: melanoma
Uniting together despite the distance
21 Aug 2020

Uniting together despite the distance

More than 120 MIA clinicians, researchers and staff came together online to share research highlights.

Tags: melanoma
Professor Richard Scolyer recognised in The Pathologist's 2020 Power List.
03 Aug 2020

Professor Richard Scolyer recognised in The Pathologist's 2020 Power List.

For the 2nd consecutive year, MIA's Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer has been selected in the top 100 best, brightest, and most powerful advocates of pathology by The Pathologist.

Tags: melanoma
Important Update: Masks required at Poche Centre
24 Jul 2020

Important Update: Masks required at Poche Centre

As of Monday 27th July all patients and carers/family members coming into The Poche Centre will be required to bring their own mask. 

Tags: melanoma