The policy change follows a national Sunscreen Summit at QIMR Berghofer in Brisbane last year, at which representatives from some of Australia’s leading research, medical, public health and advocacy bodies examined the current evidence on sunscreen use have adopted a new policy on sunscreen use, recommending that people apply it daily as part of a regular morning routine.
The recommendation is outlined in an article led by Professor David Whiteman and Associate Professor Rachel Neale from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute – which has been published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Associate Professor Neale said there was now clear evidence on the benefits of daily sunscreen use.
“Up until now, most public health organizations have recommended applying sunscreen ahead of planned outdoor activities but haven’t specifically recommended applying it every day as part of a morning routine,” she said. In Australia, we get a lot of incidental sun exposure from everyday activities such as walking to the bus stop or train station or hanging out washing (hanging laundry on a clothesline). In recent years, it has become clear that the DNA damage that causes skin cancer and melanoma accumulates with repeated small doses of sunlight. At last year’s Sunscreen Summit, we examined all of the evidence around sunscreen use and we have come to a consensus that Australians should apply sunscreen every day when the maximum UV level is forecast to be three or higher. For much of Australia, that means people should apply sunscreen all year round, but in areas like Tasmania and Victoria there are a few months over winter when sunscreen is not required.”
Cancer Council Australia’s Prevention Advisor Craig Sinclair welcomed the recommendation, saying that if more people applied sunscreen every day as part of their morning routine, it could make a real difference in reducing skin cancer rates in the future.
“Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world and research shows that sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer, including the deadliest form, melanoma,” he said. Worryingly, research from Cancer Council’s National Sun Protection Survey showed that nearly one in two Australians mistakenly believe that sunscreen can't be used safely on a daily basis. The advice is now simple: make sunscreen part of your morning routine, just like brushing your teeth.”