Don't let the sun see your DNA!

Posted 5 Feb 2019.

That's the tag line from SunSmart's new summer skin cancer campaign. Produced by Cancer Council WA and supported by Healthway and Department of Health, the campaign uses a special UV camera imported from the USA to show what skin looks like in UV (ultraviolet) light.

"By filming in UV, the same part of the light spectrum that actually causes the skin damage, the camera reveals changes in the skin that are not visible in ordinary white light. After a lifetime in Australia, most of us have these sun-induced changes in our skin which we can't normally see," said SunSmart Manager, Mark Strickland.

"We can't see DNA damage either, but since we know that sun damage to DNA is the starting point for skin cancer, we wanted to try and convey the message that that too much UV causes harmful changes to our skin in an attention grabbing campaign.

"We think that both the still and video images used in the campaign are quite stark. If seeing them makes people pause to think about what their own skin might look like, then the campaign will have been a success."

5 unexpected reasons the sun could be seeing your DNA

1) Over relying on sunscreen. No sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UV. Adding to that is the fact that we often don't use enough or don't always cover every bit of exposed skin. Clothing is a more reliable option. Sunscreen is best for your face and hands.

2) Using a baseball cap instead of a brimmed hat. Baseball hats just don't keep enough sun off the sides of your face, neck or ears. A hat with a brim is a far better choice.

3) Not using shade when you can. Good shade can reduce UV by 75 percent, so it' smart to use it when it's available. Louis Armstrong got this one wrong; we say, walk on the shady side of the street!

4) Not wearing wrap-around sunglasses. If your sunnies don't wrap around your face, UV rays can get in behind them and be reflected into your eyes. Ouch.

5) Using temperature to guide your sun protection behaviour. Remember to Think UV not heat. Heat and UV are not closely related - you can get sun burn and DNA damage on cool days. So if the UV is 3 or more, remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.

More about the campaign

Having access to the UV camera means that the SunSmart team have been able to bring the reality of skin damage to the public. Recently Heidi, Xavier and Ryan at Hit 92.9 faced the camera to find out which of them was hottest (ie most sun damaged). Check out the results. 

The camera has also appeared at the Jacaranda Street Festival in Applecross where many people used it to see just how effectively sunscreen blocks UV.
Take a closer look at the campaign.

Found in:  News - 2019 | View all news