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Australians confused about the safety of sunscreen

Photo: Many Australians confused about sunscreen
A Cancer Council Australia survey shows there's been an increase is the number of people who no longer feel that sunscreen is safe to use on a daily basis.

An increasing number of Australians are confused about the safety of sunscreen, the findings of a national survey suggests.

Statistics from the Cancer Council's National Sun Protection Survey, to be presented at the World Congress of Melanoma in Brisbane on Friday, show only 55 per cent of Australian adults recognise that it's safe to use sunscreen every day, down from 61 per cent in 2014.

The survey of 3614 adults aged 18-69 years also found 17 per cent were worried that sunscreens contain ingredients that are bad for health, while separately 20 per cent believed using sunscreen regularly would result in not having enough vitamin D.
The "alarming" results have been blamed on numerous sunscreen myths being pushed on social media.

"There's been a lot more social media where people have raised concerns about sunscreen whether they have experienced allergic reactions or experienced severe sunburn despite the use of sunscreen, this has attracted quite a lot of media attention," said Craig Sinclair, chair of the Cancer Council Australia's public health committee.

The reality is the weight of evidence is stronger than ever that sunscreen can have a significant impact on reducing melanoma, says Mr Sinclair.

"Sunscreens in Australia are strictly regulated by the Therapeutics Goods Administration to ensure that the ingredients they contain are safe and effective," he said.

"Australians should be confident that they can use sunscreen on a daily basis - there is no evidence to suggest the ingredients are bad for your health.

"Several studies have shown that sunscreen use in real life has minimal impact on Vitamin D levels over time."

Associate Professor Stephen Shumack from the Australasian College of Dermatologists also stressed sensitivities to sunscreen are rare.

"A small number of Australians may experience sunscreen sensitivities that require follow-up with a health professional. Young babies in particular have sensitive skin - that's why we don't generally recommend widespread use of sunscreen in the first six months of life," said Ass Prof Shumack.

He says the primary forms of sun protection should always be protective clothing, hats, shade and sunglasses for babies and children of any age.

"If you do believe you have had a reaction, discontinue use and see a health professional who can help you identify the ingredient you are sensitive to. This will most likely be the fragrance or the preservative in the cream base," he said.


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