New research shows children who slip on swim-shirts develop significantly fewer melanocytic nevi – moles or skin lesions known to be one of the strongest risk factors for melanoma.
A James Cook University study, conducted in Townsville, showed that while childhood sun exposure remained unchanged over an eight-year period, sun protection levels increased.
The study recorded a boost in the popularity of swim-shirts and sunscreen between 1991 and 1999, which resulted in fewer melanocytic nevi (MN) developing in children.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said a proper swim-shirt provided excellent skin coverage and sun protection for children.
“Parents need to be sure to check the clothing they purchase for their kids has a UPF rating – for ultimate sun protection,” Ms Clift said.
“A UPF rating reveals the level of sun protection a garment has, and guarantees the item has been tested. UPF50+ is currently the highest standard for clothing, blocking out 97.5 per cent or more ultraviolet radiation.
“Swim-shirts, particularly long-sleeved ones, are a good choice for parents as sunscreen can be rubbed off easily, people can forget to reapply or often don’t apply enough.
“A swim-shirt in isolation isn’t sufficient sun protection, however. A garment only provides protection to the part of the body it covers.
“Queenslanders need to use all five recommended sun-protective behaviours to reduce their risk of skin cancer – Slip on protective clothing, Slop on SPF30 or above broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies.”
Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Sunburn and high levels of sun exposure in childhood contribute significantly to the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
Swim-shirts are increasing in popularity across the state, with Cancer Council Queensland’s SunSmart Shop alone selling more than 1000 long-sleeve rashies for children in 2012.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland and childhood sun protection is available at www.cancerqld.org.au
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Head of Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171