On the 40th anniversary of a famous skin cancer campaign, research has revealed that a high number of young Australians are not using sun protection. 

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. A new multi-million-dollar awareness campaign hopes to repeat the success of the ‘Slip Slop Slap’ advertisement of the early 1980s.  

“Sid the seagull” the voice of the advertisement’s jingle, urged Australians to protect themselves from the sun with a shirt, sunscreen and a hat. It is an enduring message that has educated generations of people since it was released 40 years ago. 

But the government believes rates of skin cancer are too high. The disease kills about 1,300 Australians each year. Research has shown that more than a quarter of Australians do not use any protection from the sun’s ultra-violet radiation. 

Heather Walker, from the charity, the Cancer Council, says teenagers need to be reminded of the sun’s dangers. 

“We do have a lot of work to do particularly in the secondary school setting and with young adults. But encouragingly, older adults are using sun protection more. So, it does seem to be a dip in the lifecycle and then people do come back to sun protection, which is really encouraging. But the other group that needs a reminder in particular is men. So, in Australia twice as many men as women die from melanoma and that is a huge disparity,” Walker said.

Now, Australia is launching the first national skin cancer campaign in more than a decade. Sid the seagull’s famous ‘slip, slop, slap’ message has been updated to encourage Australians to also seek shade and slide on a pair of sunglasses. 

Health authorities have said that skin cancer is Australia’s most common cancer, and it is almost entirely preventable. 

The World Cancer Research Fund states that Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world followed by New Zealand, Norway and Denmark. It is expected that 16,000 Australians will be diagnosed this year with melanoma, a malignant tumor associated with skin cancer, according to government figures. 

The Australian Cancer Council lists three main types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. 

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