NZ sun takes greater toll than crashes
While we may not have seen too much sun this summer figures show that it is proving to be more deadly than the New Zealand roads on which people travel to get to their holiday destinations.
Late last year the Cancer Society of New Zealand revealed statistics from the Ministry of Health show Kiwis are dying at alarming rates from skin cancer.
In 2013, 489 people died from skin cancer compared with 253 people on the roads for the same period.
While New Zealand has the highest melanoma rate in the world, Taranaki is the worst of the worst, with about 60 in every 100,000 people diagnosed with the disease - 55 per cent higher that the national average. The South Taranaki District has an even higher rate of 67.4 per 100,000.
‘‘Skin cancer deaths will continue to be a dominant statistic until being SunSmart is taken more seriously, ‘‘ said society chief executive Claire Austin.
‘‘We have the highest rate of melanoma in the world. Like with the road toll, emphasis is on reducing the risks by providing people with the tools to protect themselves.’’
Austin said the organisation was encouraging Kiwis to take the time to protect themselves from harmful sun burn and too much Ultra Violet (UV) radiation, which causes skin cancer. ’’Summer is a big contributor to skin cancer rates in New Zealand as these are the months sun protection is needed most.’’
Austin said when the UV index was above three, during September to April between 10am and 4pm, people needed to remember to Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap to keep themselves safe even on cloudy or overcast days.
‘‘It only takes a few minutes to get sun burned, the same amount of time it takes to apply sunscreen and put on protective clothing.’’
The society did great work educating children with its SunSmart Schools programme and would continue to promote SunSmart messages, she said. See your doctor if: A mole changes shape, size, colour or becomes itchy and bleeds.
If you see or feel something that’s new on your skin.
If you see or feel something that’s different from other moles.
The Cancer Society advises people to check their entire body regularly including hard to see places like armpits, behind the ears, scalp, bottoms of feet and finger and toe nails. Keep track of spots and moles so you’re aware if they change.
New Zealanders are dying at alarming rates from skin cancer.