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.

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