Leavers encouraged to own their tone

Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.
Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

With a record number of school leavers converging on the South West this week, the state's leading cancer organisation is urging teenagers to protect themselves from the sun and own their tone.

The #OwnYourTone campaign, which coincides with National Skin Cancer Action Week, comes amid the latest research which shows that more than half a million teenagers are getting sunburnt during the summer months - increasing their risk of skin cancer.

The Cancer Council's National Sun Protection Survey found there had been no significant change in sun protection habits of teenagers in the last 12 years and just 10 per cent of teenagers wore sun-protective clothing.

The findings have only added to the urgency for a national skin care awareness campaign, according to Cancer Council WA's South West regional education officer Shenae Norris.

"The findings are extremely worrying," she said.

"Teenagers are a priority population.

"The damage caused in the teenage years also significantly increases the risks of skin cancer in later life.

"This data shows that urgent action is needed to do more to reinforce the 'slip, slop, slap, seek and slide' message."

With more than 9000 WA teenages expected to spend most of Leavers week outdoors, including the Meelup Beach Day, Ms Norris urged Year 12s to use a range of sun protection measures.

"Sunscreen is not a suit of armour and needs to be used alongside broadbrimmed hats, shade, sunglasses and clothing, as well as applied correctly," she said.

With two in three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, Australasian College of Dermatologists president, professor David Francis said it was vital to spread the sun protection message.

"The single greatest risk factor for skin cancer is excessive exposure to UV and it is largely preventable by adequately protecting yourself from the sun," he said.

"We encourage teenagers to #OwnYourTone and protect their natural skin."

It is estimated Australia spends more than $1 billion annually treating the disease, which claims more than 2,000 lives each year.