Tasmania’s sun can be deadly - get protection
Tasmanian fishermen and boat enthusiasts are in danger of irreversible eye damage and contributing to the Australia’s reputation for the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. This can be avaided by taking some rudimentary precautions
Australia’s has a unique climate with extreme levels of Ultra Violet Radiation (UVR). Our the love of the outdoors, and reluctance to embrace the ‘Slip Slop Slap’ mantra of the anti cancer council means two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. You are four times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer including melanoma than any other cancer.
Suitable protection of the skin against UV damage and regular skin checks can reduce the incidence of these cancers and early diagnosis can dramatically improve the outcome once diagnosed!
Ultra-violet radiation is emitted from the sun. The majority of UVC is filtered by the ozone layer and has very superficial penetration of the skin. UVA penetrates deep in the skin and contributes to premature aging. Glass provides no protection as UVA penetrates windows.
UVB is absorbed superficially in the skin and causes sunburn. UVA and UVB both contribute to skin cancer development.
Importantly UVR cannot be felt and is separate from the heat felt when in the sun. Cloudy days in summer do not reduce UVR and windburn is not from the wind. UV damage is by direct exposure and reflected rays from sand and water which magnify the damage.
The levels of UVR are increased:
1. In summer
2. In the middle of the day
3. At altitude and
4. When reflected off water and sand
UV forecast and alerts are available on the weather page of Australian daily papers. These charts should be referred to when considering outdoor activity particularly with children and sun sensitive individuals. One is shown on this page.
SPF ratings are indicative of the level of sun protection with 30+ filtering 96% radiation. However the term broad spectrum provides protection against burning but not necessarily UVA. Unfortunately the only way to know about the UVA-blocking ability of a sunscreen is to look for at least one of these ingredients octinoxate and zinc oxide. The old fashioned zinc cream as popularised by the Australian Cricket team is a bright beacon when stalking trout, consequently it is not popular. It is very effective though. Recent nano technology has created micronized zinc oxide that is invisible once applied to the skin.
A combination of sunscreen plus the application of a Vitamin C solution provides optimum skin care. Vitamin C reverses UV induced free radical damage to the skin.
Not all clothing fabric is equal. Look for a labels with a SPF rating of 30-50 protection factor rating to be sure.
When choosing clothing for sun protection—choose shirts with a collar or wear a bandana.
Dark colours of the same material absorb more UV and are therefore more protective.
Loose fitting clothing will be cooler in the heat.
Common sites of excess UV exposure are the neck, face, ears, lips and nose. These areas are constantly exposed to the elements and therefore, generally receive more UVR than other body parts.
Akubra style hats with a brim of at least 7.5cm and legionnaire-style hats reduce the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching the head and neck. Baseball caps are not adequate.
Preventing eye damage
Repeated exposure to the eyes can contribute to serious long term as well as short-term strain symptoms. Cataracts and growths on the cornea (pterygium) are related to UV exposure. Sunglasses are subject to Australian standards and when choosing eye protection choose well fitting wrap around style sunglasses with an ‘Eye protection’ rating 9-10 which filters out most rays. Avoid fashion spectacles.
Sun protection should be used when the UV index is above 3.
A daily UV index can be found at http://www.bom.gov.au/tas/uv/index.shtml (select your area from a click-able map) and also in most daily newspapers
Skin cancer is related to the number of severe sunburns–particularly during childhood and adolescence.
An individual’s lifetime accumulative exposure can place them at a higher risk of skin cancer including Melanoma and most definitely cause premature aging.
There is no such thing as a safe solarium.
Fake tans provide NO protection.
Sun protection does not contribute to Vitamin D deficiency.
Beware the magnification affect of reflected UV damage from sand and water.
Have a regular skin check up and report any non-healing sore or change in a mole to a medical authority experienced in diagnosis of skin cancer.
Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you are swimming or perspiring.
Apply sunscreens generously—adults should use about a teaspoon for each limb and ½ teaspoon for the face, ears and neck.
Use specific UV protective sticks to the lips
Appropriate clothing hats and sunglasses completes your sun protection.
Facts from www.sunsmart.com.au
Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.
Over 1,700 Australians die from skin cancer each year.
Peter Dixon–Surgeon and Australian Fly Fishing Team Captain.
Bad hat and no protection for neck or ears.
Good hats and sunglasses. Note one angler has sungloves as well.
(click on the picture for a larger image)
Not all sunscreens are equal - and price is no guide.
Look at the active ingredients least one of these; octinoxate, oxybenzone or zinc oxide.
The three pictured all have zinc oxide are 30 +, UVA-UVB broad spectrum and 4 hours water resistant.
They ranged in price from $8.69 for the Cancer Council Sport to $10.69 and $11.69 for Natural Instinct at a discount pharmacy.