Cancer Council busts Australia’s top 5 sunscreen myths

Don Gribble 26 October 2017

Young women strolling along a beach.

Have you bought into any of these myths before?

The latest statistics from the Cancer Council’s National Sun Protection Survey have revealed an alarming degree of misinformation surrounding the use of sunscreen in Australia.

The survey showed that only 55% of adults believe sunscreen can be used safely on a daily basis (down from 61% in 2013 – 2014), 20% believe people who use sunscreen regularly don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun and 17% believe that ingredients in sunscreen are bad for your health if used regularly.

With two out of three Australians predicted to develop skin cancer in their lifetime, these ill-founded beliefs have prompted skin cancer prevention experts to bust the five most common sunscreen myths in an attempt to get the correct information about sunscreen out there.

Myth 1: Sunscreen is not safe when used on a daily basis.

  • BUSTED: Sunscreen ingredients are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to ensure they are both safe and effective.

Myth 2: Using sunscreen will prevent you from getting enough vitamin D.

  • BUSTED: Studies prove that sunscreen use has minimal impact on Vitamin D levels, with most Australians getting enough Vitamin D through incidental sun exposure.

Myth 3: A good sunscreen is enough to protect you from the sun.

  • BUSTED: Sunscreen needs to be used in conjunction with protective clothing, seeking shade, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Myth 4: Using a water-resistant SPF50+ sunscreen means you can stay in the sun longer without needing to reapply it.

  • BUSTED: Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, regardless of the level of water resistance advised on the bottle.

Myth 5: You only need a little bit of SPF50+ to be protected.

  • BUSTED: You need to apply at least 35ml (7 teaspoons) of sunscreen (at least one per limb, one for your front, one for your back and one for your head).

The National Sun Protection Survey is conducted every three to four years, with the 2016-17 survey collecting responses from 3,614 adults aged between 18 and 69.

The results reveal an alarming level of public confusion about sunscreen and the Cancer Council recently presented their findings at the World Congress of Melanoma in Brisbane to help get the message out there that sunscreen is safe and effective and can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

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