Summer and Brexit – A Story of Skin Cancer

Not this Brexit…….the one that started 233 years ago, and carries on.

You know.  The one where the Brits exit Britain and come to Australia (including this author).

Whereas once we brought crime and lice, now we just bring our glow-in-the-dark pale, white skin and insatiable desire for the sun that we never got to grow up with.

Over the years, the migration from northern Europe has been the bedrock of the current population density of Australia.  The combination of white skin, outdoors work and play and the high levels of UV have been a potent mix.-

White skin lacks melanin, the pigment that ‘absorbs’ UV.  You don’t want vast amounts of it in northern Europe as it hinders vitamin D production by ‘blocking’ the action of UV on cells.  But – as is obvious from the skin tones of humans who evolved in sunny climates – you most definitely do want increased melanin in Australia.

Without adequate amounts of melanin, UV penetrates cells more easily, damages the cells’ DNA and this forms the basis for developing skin cancers.

So that’s the danger of Brexit.  And summer?

Well, this is because of how the earth moves around the sun; not in circles but ellipses.  The ‘flatter’ portion of that ellipse sees the earth 1.7% closer to the sun during summer in Australia.  Northern Europe never gets that close – even at the height of their Northern Hemisphere summer.

Our increased proximity to the sun – along with a few other factors (closer to the equator and less pollution) means Australians may receive up to 15% more UV annually than their counterparts in the UK.

Throw a shrimp on the barbie, have a game of cricket and an arvo at the beach……and that 15% starts to look like a conservative estimate.

So, overall, this may be a summer and Brexit combo that even ScoMo and BoJo can’t fix.

But you can.

It’s simple and it works.

The evidence is clear.  Despite the high proportion of Caucasian skin, the under-40 age group in Australia has seen a reduction in melanoma rates due to better behaviours in the sun – namely:

Slip…..into a shirt
Slop…..on sunscreen (30+ / 50+)
Slap…..on a hat (broad-brimmed)
Seek….shade
Slide…..on sunnies

Happy New Year to all from the Skin2 team; wishing you a healthy, happy and fun 2020.