Gladstone not so smart when it comes to sun

ALARMING statistics show 80% of Gladstone's 18-34 year olds are sunburnt every year, putting them at risk of developing skin cancer.

The health statistics also show about only 9% of the region's adults use all five forms of sun protection - hat, sunscreen, shade, sunglasses and protective clothing - in summer.

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said young people aged 18-24 had the highest rate of sunburn in the state.

AusSun Research Lab director Michael Kimlin said he hoped young people would one day care about their skin as much as their teeth.

The Queensland University of Technology professor said the cancerous consequences of exposure usually appeared about 30 years later.

"How do you tell someone, who is learning about their place in the world, who is worrying about the school formal tomorrow, 'maybe you should wear a hat' or 'maybe sunscreen because down the track you may be at high risk of skin cancer'," Prof Kimlin said.

A QUT study found young people were more likely to look unfavourably on sun safety.


LOVE THE SUN: Agnete Vatle is on holiday here. She knows about the dangers of skin cancer but is soaking up the rays regardless.
LOVE THE SUN: Agnete Vatle is on holiday here. She knows about the dangers of skin cancer but is soaking up the rays regardless. Rosie Obrien

European visitor ignores health risks to 'brown up'

BEACHGOER Agnete Vatle admits Norwegians have a goal to 'brown up' before heading back home.

"We have an unhealthy relationship with the sun," she said. "We just come here and try to get as much sun as possible."

After spending the day at the beach, unprotected, Agnete said she doesn't mind if she gets sunburnt.

"My time is so limited in Australia and I just want to go back brown and beautiful," she said.

"I have this feeling that I deserve to be in the sun's rays after being in darkness for 20 years."

Her parents are visiting from Norway, and they have both educated her about the dangers skin cancer, she says.

But she chooses to ignore them.

"My mother Kristen actually works with cancer patients," she said.

"She sends me emails from home all the time asking for pictures of my moles.

"I have been really educated on the topic but I don't know, skin cancer just doesn't really concern me right now."

Paying the price for years in the sun

GLADSTONE woman Lesley King didn't fully understand the dangers of the sun until she went to the doctor. 

Lesley King.
Lesley King.

The mature woman - who is now a cancer council volunteer, and cancer survivor - has had numerous moles cut out from the unprotected areas of her skin, most recently off her lips.

"I've never been a swimmer or even a farmer, just going outside occasionally like any other Queenslander," she said.

She went to a skin doctor 30 years ago and that's when she realised the pain of sunburn wasn't anything compared to getting cancers removed.

"From there I had to see a dermatologist and a plastic surgeon, all because I'd been foolish when I was younger."

Ms King said she had learnt a valuable lesson and taken greater care with her kids and grandchildren's skin.


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