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 |email@example.com
Throughout January our community created, hosted and participated in some amazing events, each of them helping us on our quest to reach zero deaths from melanoma.
Australian television presenter, interior designer and mother Kyly Clarke has been announced as the new Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign Melanoma March.
Melanoma Institute Australia has recently partnered with three other organisations to boost support for melanoma patients and their carers across Australia.
Melanoma patients and their families across Western Australia will benefit from strengthened and expanded services with the merging of melanomaWA and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Australian researchers have played a critical role in the discovery of a potential new test to predict which early stage melanoma patients are at high risk of their disease recurring and progressing.
We are extremely grateful for our community fundraisers, who, even in this difficult time, have given up their time and effort to fundraise so we can continue to work towards our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
Melanoma patients are set to benefit from subsidised access to immunotherapy treatment for high risk early-stage and advanced-stage melanoma patients.
An informative article on how immunotherapy is revolutionising cancer treatment, written by Jill Margo and featured in the Australian Financial Review.
Melanoma patients and their families in the Riverina will benefit from strengthened and sustained melanoma services with the merger of the Amie St Clair Melanoma Trust and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Belmont High School at Lake Macquarie has been announced winner of the 2019 SunSafe Student Ambassador Program video competition.
It’s time again to say thank you to our amazing community fundraisers!
Videos of the sessions at the recent Patient Information Evening co-hosted by Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) are now available for viewing.
MIA is well-represented in the poster sessions at the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in the USA, with four poster presentations being given by members of our translational research lab.
Professor Georgina Long has today opened the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah.
MIA’s Co-Medical Directors, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, have both been named Highly Cited Researchers, according to the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers 2019 list.
Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) and Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) have announced a new multi-year agreement to provide enhanced support services for melanoma patients nationally.
It is time again to say thank you to our incredible community fundraisers who are helping us get closer to our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
MIA has presented promising data regarding progression-free survival rates for advanced melanoma patients at the ESMO 2019 Congress in Barcelona.
Another month has flown by and yet again we have a host of amazing community fundraisers who generously gave up their time to help us reach our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.