Slip, slop, slap, success: Skin cancer rates plummet thanks to long-running nationwide sun safety campaign

Source: Daily Mail UK Online, May 2014

  • Melanoma cases in young people have fallen 5 per cent a year since 1990s
  • Scientists spent 18 years looking at skin cancer in 15-24 year olds in Qld
  • Research leader says sun safety messages are having a positive effect
  • Data also shows fall in most common skin cancers in people aged up to 45

The slip, slop, slap message is proving to be effective with melanoma rates plummeting in the past 18 years.

A long-term study of teenagers and young adults has revealed the cases of melanoma in young people fell 5 per cent each year from the mid-1990s to 2010.

Research leader Adele Green said it showed the effectiveness of sun safety messages.
Skin cancer is declining, according to a major new study

Prof Green has been studying skin cancer at QIMR Beghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland for more than three decades.

She and her team looked at melanoma cases among 15 to 24 year olds in Queensland from 1982 to 2010.

It’s been one of the most successful cancer prevention campaigns,’ Prof Green said of the slip, slop, slap campaign.

‘(We looked at) young people who have been exposed to the sun safe message and early detection programs since birth.’

Results could also be similar across the rest of Australia, she added.

According to the study published online in the International Journal of Cancer, the rate of melanoma cases has fallen from 25 per 100,000 in 1996 to 14 per 100,000 in 2010 among people aged 20 to 24.

It follows data released by the institute in April that showed a decline in the most common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, among people aged up to 45.

‘This shows the improvements are broader than just the adolescents and young adults in the melanoma study,’ Prof Green said.

‘The effectiveness of the sun safe message is up there with the anti-smoking and the asbestos campaigns.

‘I am convinced we can make people much healthier and happier if we prevent chronic diseases rather than treat them.

Professor Green said sun safety campaigns like slip, slop, slap were having a significant effect on the decline of melanoma cases (Source: Daily Mail)
The culture is changing. Australians know the sun is dangerous as well as wonderful.’

But despite the good news, Queensland still has the highest rate of melanoma cases in the world. Cancer Council CEO Professor Ian Olver said the sun safe message was an excellent example of a public health campaign.

But Cancer Council CEO Ian Olver said people needed to be vigilant with their sun safety – Queensland still has the highest rate of melanoma in the world
(Source: Daily Mail)

‘Australia is known for its high rate of melanoma, but it has been able to lead the world in prevention,’ he said.

‘We are into the second generation with the sun smart message.

‘The important thing is to keep the message going.

‘This is not a time to relax just because it is working.’

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