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

International collaboration the key to increasing survival
24 Oct 2018

International collaboration the key to increasing survival

"International collaboration remains the key to ensuring this pioneering research continues so we can increase survival rates for advanced melanoma patients and move us closer to achieving our goal of zero deaths from melanoma," says Professor Georgina Long, of the clinical trial results presented at ESMO 2018.

High-risk Stage III melanoma patients to benefit from Australia/Netherlands collaboration
23 Oct 2018

High-risk Stage III melanoma patients to benefit from Australia/Netherlands collaboration

Research that could change clinical practice for high-risk Stage III melanoma patients has been presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Munich.

Monthly dose of immunotherapy allows flexibility for patients undergoing treatment
11 Oct 2018

Monthly dose of immunotherapy allows flexibility for patients undergoing treatment

A larger, monthly dose of immunotherapy can give melanoma patients more freedom without sacrificing effectiveness.

Australia's best minds in melanoma research converge on Melbourne
08 Oct 2018

Australia's best minds in melanoma research converge on Melbourne

The Australasian Melanoma Conference, hosted by the Australasian Melanoma Conference Committee, was held in Melbourne on the weekend, with many of MIA's clinicians in attendance.

Nobel Prize for novel cancer therapies
04 Oct 2018

Nobel Prize for novel cancer therapies

The two men who discovered checkpoint inhibitors, the brakes of the immune system, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday, October 1.

World Health Organisation launches 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours
31 Aug 2018

World Health Organisation launches 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is releasing the 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours.

Professor John Thompson awarded prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal
31 Aug 2018

Professor John Thompson awarded prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal

Former Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia Professor John Thompson awarded the prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal.

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab
23 Aug 2018

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab

Clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community are invited to make submissions in support of the PBS listing for pembrolizumab.

World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018
17 Aug 2018

World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018

The World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018 has featured many minds from MIA sharing their expertise and wealth of knowledge with over 1000 attendees from around the world.

Melanoma Institute Australia welcomes new CEO Matthew Browne
09 Aug 2018

Melanoma Institute Australia welcomes new CEO Matthew Browne

Melanoma Institute Australia is delighted to announce the appointment of Matthew Browne as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference
26 Jul 2018

Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference

It was a full house this week at Melanoma Institute Australia thanks to our ‘Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference’. 

Reducing the risk of melanoma in young adults
19 Jul 2018

Reducing the risk of melanoma in young adults

A new study from The University of Sydney shows that sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent when used from a young age.

Melanoma Institute Australia launches free e-learning education portal
20 Jun 2018

Melanoma Institute Australia launches free e-learning education portal

Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) has launched a free e-learning portal to educate healthcare professionals about the latest advances in melanoma diagnosis and treatment.

David Day and a lifetime of missed moments
08 Jun 2018

David Day and a lifetime of missed moments

When David lost his life last year, he was 33, with three daughters under six.

Australian melanoma experts share latest breakthroughs with world's best oncologists
06 Jun 2018

Australian melanoma experts share latest breakthroughs with world's best oncologists

ASCO 2018 brings together the world's best in oncology from around the world. 

ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials
06 Jun 2018

ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials

Clinical trials are just that – trials in a clinical setting to evaluate the effectiveness or otherwise of individual and combination treatments.

MIA Scoops Awards at the International Academy of Pathology
04 Jun 2018

MIA Scoops Awards at the International Academy of Pathology

Melanoma Institute Australia scooped the award pool at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Academy of Pathology. 

Updated Clinical Guidelines for Melanoma
25 May 2018

Updated Clinical Guidelines for Melanoma

Melanoma patients across Australia will benefit from the release of updated clinical care guidelines.

Melanoma and Marital Status: A Study
11 May 2018

Melanoma and Marital Status: A Study

An American study has discovered a link between early detection and marital status in melanoma diagnosis. 

A weekend in Paris talking all things pathology...
02 May 2018

A weekend in Paris talking all things pathology...

An international course on melanoma pathology in Paris, France co-directed by Professor Richard Scolyer took place over the weekend.