The sun is stronger in Australia and New Zealand because they are closer to the equator, where the sun's UV rays are more intense. Additionally, these countries also have a hole in the ozone layer above them, which allows more UV radiation to reach the surface of the earth.
The ozone hole is a region of the Earth's stratosphere where the ozone concentration is much lower than normal. This hole is caused by the release of man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which rise into the stratosphere and break down the ozone molecules. As the ozone molecules are destroyed, the ozone hole expands, allowing more harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun to reach the surface of the earth. This means that people in these regions are more susceptible to skin damage and sunburns, and should take extra precautions to protect their skin when spending time outdoors.
Rates of skin cancer are higher in Australia and New Zealand for several reasons:
- UV exposure: These countries are located closer to the equator, where the sun is stronger, and have a hole in the ozone layer above them, which allows more UV radiation to reach the surface of the earth. This results in higher levels of UV exposure for people living in these countries.
- Outdoor lifestyle: Australians and New Zealanders have an outdoor-oriented lifestyle and spend a lot of time outdoors, increasing their exposure to the sun.
- Fair skin: The population of Australia and New Zealand has a high proportion of people with fair skin, which is more susceptible to skin damage and skin cancer.
- Sunburn history: Sunburns, especially in childhood, can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. In Australia and New Zealand, sunburns are common due to the strong sun and outdoor lifestyle.
- These factors, combined with a lack of awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, have led to high rates of skin cancer in Australia and New Zealand. It is important for people in these countries to take steps to protect their skin from sun damage and to get regular skin checkups to detect skin cancer early.
There are several ways to reduce the risk of skin cancer:
- Wear protective clothing: Cover up with long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin from direct sun exposure.
- Use good quality sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor SPF50+ before going outside, especially during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Make sure to reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating.
- Seek shade: Try to stay in the shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day, and avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible.
- Wear sunglasses: Protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses that block out 99-100% of both UVA and UVB radiation.
- Avoid tanning beds: Tanning beds emit UV radiation, which can increase the risk of skin cancer.
- Get regular skin check-ups: See a dermatologist annually for a full-body skin exam, especially if you have a history of skin cancer, fair skin, or a family history of the disease.
Remember that skin cancer can be prevented, and early detection is key. By following these guidelines, you can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer and protect your skin from sun damage.