Each year more than 82% of young adults sunburnt

SCORCHING figures show Fraser Coast locals are fast increasing their risk of skin cancer, with nearly 50% of adults getting sunburnt every year.

More than 82% of Fraser Coast locals aged 18-34 are sunburnt each year, compared to nearly 60% of those aged 35-54 and about 25% of those aged over 55, according to statistics released by the Health Department.

Cancer Council Queensland spokewoman Katie Clift said sunburn caused significant, unrepairable damage to skin cells.

"Sunburn is linked to all skin cancers including melanoma - the most deadly form of the disease," she said.

"What most Queenslanders don't realise is that sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes, even on cold and overcast days - you can still be sunburnt when the temperature is cool.

"Sun exposure that doesn't result in burning also damages the skin, increasing the risk of skin cancer.

"Getting sunburnt doesn't just occur during a full day at the beach either - Queenslanders are often burnt unexpectedly at sports games, gardening at home or having a barbeque.

"This is an important reminder for all of us to stay SunSmart, and ensure we follow the recommended sun-protective behaviours when the UV Index level is three or above."

Ms Clift said sun-protective behaviours were required when the UV Index level was three or above and in Queensland, the UV Index level was three or above all year round.

She said Queensland had the highest rates of skin cancer in the world with about 3000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed across the state each year.

"We recommend Queenslanders abide by all five recommendations - slip on protective clothing, slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade and slide on wrap-around sunnies when out and about," Ms Clift said.

"Sunscreen or wearing a hat alone isn't enough - we need to make the effort to do all we can to protect ourselves to reduce our skin cancer risk."

More information about Cancer Council Queensland and staying SunSmart is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or by phoning the Cancer Council Helpline on 131 120.