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New research shows almost 2.4 million Aussie adults sunburnt on summer weekends

New research released by Cancer Council on World Cancer Day (4 Feb) shows that approximately 430,000 more Australian adults are getting sunburnt on the weekend than they were four years ago, increasing their risk of skin cancer.

Findings from Cancer Council’s National Sun Survey suggest the downward trend in adult sunburn since 2003/04 has hit a hurdle, with adults potentially becoming more complacent about the dangers of excessive exposure to UV rays.

The Chair of Cancer Council’s National Skin Cancer Committee, Vanessa Rock, said that the latest data shows that on a summer weekend roughly 2.4 million Aussies are getting sunburnt.

“This means that compared to four years ago, approximately 430,000 more Aussie adults are getting burnt and putting themselves at risk of skin cancer.1

She said the data was a wake-up call that highlighted the need for Government to re-invest in national mass market skin cancer prevention campaigns to ensure adults remained vigilant about skin cancer.

“While this latest research demonstrates the number of Australians who were getting sunburnt is still significantly lower than ten years ago, the recent increase is cause for concern.

“The survey suggests men in particular are neglecting sun protection, with 18 per cent getting sunburnt on the weekend, compared to 12 per cent of women.”

Ms Rock said possible explanations for the higher rates of sunburn included an increase in the amount of time adults spend outdoors during peak UV periods.

“Our survey indicates that adults are spending more time outdoors in peak UV times than four years ago, increasing their chances of getting sunburnt.

“We also know that 18 per cent of adults didn’t protect their skin from the sun when they spent more than an hour outside during summer.”

“Almost all skin cancers are caused by UV exposure, so it’s important organisations like Cancer Council, as well as government, continue to remind Australians that skin cancer is largely preventable and encourage them to take the simple steps to lower their skin cancer risk – slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.”


[1] National Sun Survey 2013/14.

Data based on statistical comparisons of changes over time in 2013-14 compared with 2010-11 of adults’ reported behaviours outdoors and sunburn on the previous weekends.

  • Adults (18-69 years) in 2013-14 were 36% more likely to have experienced weekend sunburn compared with 2010-11 accounting for demographics and weekend UV radiation levels.
  • Adults (18-69 years) in 2013-14 were 14% more likely to have spent more than 15 minutes outdoors during peak UV times compared with 2010-11 accounting for demographics and weekend temperature.
  • Adults (18-69 years) also spent more time outdoors in 2013-14 compared with 2010-11 (on average 8 minutes longer outdoors).

Population figures based on population estimates (for persons 18-69 years each survey year) from ABS publication 3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2014.

Source: Cancer Council Australia