11 December 2023

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) contributed to the newly released Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) sun safety position statement, which aims to protect people involved in sports from cancer-causing UV radiation. 

AIS Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes says participating in outdoor sports exposes not only athletes, but also coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators to prolonged periods of time outside. This means high levels of exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

‘Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and athletes participating in outdoor sports may be at greater risk for skin cancer because of high cumulative sun exposure, inadequate use of sun protection, and low skin cancer health literacy,’ said Dr Hughes AM. 

ARPANSA’s Ultraviolet Radiation Science Officer, Dr Kerryn King, who contributed to the statement, says this position statement is a step forward in assisting sporting organisations to recognise the inherent risk of UV radiation exposure in sports and to take action to cultivate positive sun protection behaviours for all participants.

‘With solar UV radiation responsible for at least 95% of skin cancers in Australia, we know that the more an individual is exposed to UV radiation, the greater their risk of developing skin cancer,’ said Dr King. 

‘It really boils down to ensuring the implementation of sun safe practices, such as the promotion of Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide behaviours.’ 

The position statement also provides strategies for reducing UV exposures. This includes recommendations for training and educating staff, communicating sun safety, and implementing sun protection policies. It also recommends sun protective clothing and uniform policies that ensure appropriate skin coverage and eye protection. 

The new position statement is available to read on the AIS website

It was developed by the AIS alongside leading sporting and health authorities including ARPANSA, Paddle Australia, Cancer Council and the Melanoma Institute of Australia. 

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