Cancer Society Says Be Safe While Enjoying The Sun During The Festive Season

22 December 2009, 7:26PM

While NIWA has predicted cooler than normal temperatures for much of the country this summer, the Cancer Society advises that it is still important to use sun protection while outdoors, even if conditions are cool or cloudy.

“It is not temperature or sunshine that counts, it is the intensity of the UVR," says Dr Louise Reiche, Dermatologist. “Be careful to protect yourself and your family from the sun throughout the day, and especially between 11am and 4pm, to prevent skin and eye damage and lessen the risk of skin cancer."
Dr Richard McKenzie, UVR scientist at NIWA, echoes these concerns. “Just because the weather is cool this doesn’t mean that UVR levels are low. Despite our recent cool and cloudy conditions, UVR levels are very high or extreme throughout the country. The New Zealand climate can be very deceptive in this respect.”
Dr Judith Galtry, Skin Cancer Advisor for the Cancer Society adds "it takes only a few minutes to get sunburnt in these conditions - whatever the temperature. Both sunburn and tanning are a sign of skin cells in trauma. If you must have a tan, use a fake tanning product rather than sunbathing or using a sunbed. In fact, using sunbeds before the age of 35 boosts your risk of melanoma by 75 percent." "But remember, a fake tan doesn't offer any sun protection.”
Dr Galtry also urges people to check the UV Index in the newspaper before going out for the day. When the Ultraviolet Index is at 3 or above, it is important that people use sun protection.
“In general, the safest times to get some sun at this time of year are in the early morning and late afternoon but cover up at other times throughout the day. This doesn’t mean you can’t be active, just be sensible”.
• A wide brimmed hat provides good protection for your face, neck and ears.
• Wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible, ideally with a UPF >50(clothing sun
protection factor).
• Apply 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin and re-apply every two hours - more
frequently if swimming / towelling. Don't use sunscreen to extend your time in the sun.
• Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory and protect your eyes from sun damage. Make sure they
meet Australian / NZ Standards.
• Seek shade during peak UV times (11am to 4pm).