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Sunny SA and Skin cancer – Some Things You Should Know

Sunny SA and Skin cancer – Some Things You Should Know

Simon Gear

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) hosted an informative symposium on Solar Radiation on 16 February 2012 at the Southern Sun Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport. The symposium set out to share recent scientific knowledge on solar radiation with an emphasis on UVA and UVB radiation, its impact, and how to lower risks associated with solar radiation. (Picture right: Simon Gear, environmental and science correspondent for Primedia Broadcasting and anchor presenter for 50/50 on SABC 2.)

“As one of the countries with the highest incidence of skin cancer we are fortunate to have local scientists whose knowledge is crucial to the continuing education of professionals working in the health and environmental sectors,” says CANSA CEO, Sue Janse van Rensburg. “We wish to equip role players and the public with the appropriate knowledge to make informed decisions.”

The opening address was delivered by Dr Elizabeth Kaye-Petersen – Director, Maternal, Neonatal, Women & Child Health and Nutrition for Gauteng Provincial Government. Simon Gear, environmental and science correspondent for Primedia Broadcasting and the anchor presenter for 50/50 on SABC 2, explored the areas of modern life that represent a danger of harmful exposure to solar radiation and discuss mankind’s dangerous exposure to the very real risk the sun represents to our health.

Prof Werner Sinclair, Head of Dermatology at the University of the Free State, spoke about about the integral part that sunscreens play in the protection against the harmful effects of solar irradiation. It’s been used for decades with varying levels of effectiveness and has been shrouded in controversy concerning their true value, side-effects, inhibition of vitamin D-synthesis and the possible link with the melanoma epidemic.

Dr Whitaker

President of the South African Melanoma Advisory Board and Vice-President of the Dermatological Society of South Africa, Dr Dagmar Whitaker, focused on melanoma 2012: What is new for South Africa. High UV concentrations, an ozone hole, a sunny climate, and a sport and outdoor lifestyle orientated nation are just the right ingredients for a recipe for disaster. The incidence of Non- melanoma skin cancer (Basal Cell Carcinomas and Squamous Cell Carcinomas) has reached epidemic proportions. (Photo right.)

Dr Caradee Wright is the Research Group Leader for the Environmental Health Research Group and specialises in public health with a particular emphasis on environmental health research. Health implications of exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation, was discussed in her talk.

Dr Liz Bornman, an established researcher from the University of Johannesburg who specialised in the key mediator of Vitamin D signalling, presented data on a research project on Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) function and how it is modulated by in vitro Vitamin D supplementation.

 

 

Dr Albrecht

CANSA’s Head of Research, Dr Carl Albrecht, discussed the importance of effective sunscreen protection against solar UV radiation – with emphasis on UVA filtering.  (Photo right.)

Braam van Reenen, Seal of Recognition Consultant to CANSA, elaborated on CANSA’s watchdog role in preventing cancer and what South Africa’s diverse nation should know in order to act.

Sun beds: paying good money to risk getting cancer?

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is urging the public to help them save lives by signing its petition to ban tanning beds. Skin cancer is one the most common forms of cancer in South Africa – risk levels for South Africans are amongst the highest worldwide with melanoma (the most deadly type of skin cancer) on the rise.

“Overexposure to UV radiation before the age of 18 leads to an increased risk for skin cancer later in life. We therefore strongly believe that tanning beds need to be strictly regulated in South Africa and call on a total ban on the use of tanning beds by individuals younger than 18,” says CANSA CEO, Sue Janse van Rensburg. CANSA is currently on a drive to collect 50 000 signatures from across the country in order to present it to the Department of Health.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, includes tanning devices on its list of the most dangerous cancer-causing agents – a list that includes plutonium and cigarettes.

Nova Scotia recently became the first province in Canada to make tanning beds illegal for youth under 18 years old. Under the new Tanning Bed Act, tanning salon owners in violation can be fined up to $10 000 and have their business closed for up to two years.

Businesses in the UK that allow under-18s to use sun beds will face fines of up to £20,000 under new rules. The Sun beds (Regulation) Act 2010 came into force after recent research showed more than two people under the age of 35 are diagnosed with the deadliest form of skin cancer every day in the UK.

Adds Van Rensburg “It is evident that the world is taking note of the deadly consequences of using tanning beds – it’s time our government got on board.”

“Our children are our future and our hope.  We owe it to our youth to become more cancer smart.  May adult cancers are linked to exposure to cancer-causing factors in the environment during childhood.  CANSA strongly believes in investing in the future of our children by actively involving the youth in the fight against cancer. Help us to achieve this by signing the petition today and getting your family and friends involved.” she concludes.

Sign up today on www.cansa.org.za

CANSA UV-Smart Armband

As part of their Sun Smart campaign, CANSA is giving South Africans a practical way to implement its message: ‘Safe in the sun’. You can now monitor the harmful UV-rays you are exposed to with a CANSA UV-Smart Armband that turns darker in colour as the UV-rays intensify. Each shade of colour gives protection recommendations you can follow to avoid sunburn.  The UV-Smart Armband sells for R30 each and is available in blue, pink and purple, adult and children’s sizes. Buy your UV-Smart Armband directly from CANSA’s Care Centres country-wide or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22.  Read more here.

(For media information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA or email: lbalona@cansa.org.za, call 011 616 7662 or cell: 082 459 5230.  Or visit www.cansa.org.za or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22, or email: info@cansa.org.za)

About CANSA

CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and all people affected by cancer. As a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R6 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public.

Our wide-reaching health programme includes prevention and education campaigns, CANSA Care Centres that offer stoma and lymphoedema clinics, medical equipment hire, toll-free line and support to children and their families affected by cancer. Patient care and support in the form of 13 CANSA Care Homes and the main metropolitan areas plus one hospitium (based in Polokwane) for out-of-town cancer patients as well as CANSA-TLC Lodging for paediatric oncology parents.

In 2011, CANSA…

  • Invested R6 million in cancer research
  • Supported 13 300  individual cancer patients through our 261 support groups and our 2 300 trained caregivers
  • Welcomed 1 800 individual patients to our 13 CANSA Care Lodges, where they were served 202 000 meals during their combined 101 000 night-stay.
  • Visited and supported an average of 48 500 patients, undergoing cancer treatment, in oncology clinics
  • Provided specialist care to more than 5 000 stoma patients and to about 40 lymphoedema patients every month
  • Supported people affected by cancer by providing individual counselling to 23 500 people, and made medical loan equipment available to 3 300 people
  • Distributed 803 000 information and educational pamphlets and 10 700 posters in four languages during our awareness campaigns
  • Conducted cancer screening:
    • 12 400 Pap smears and facilitated an additional  7 460 in partnership with the DOH for cervical cancer
    • 19 600 breast examinations to detect breast lumps and facilitated an addition 4 100 in partnership with the DOH
    • 7 500 PSA tests to detect prostate cancer
    • 1 500 skin examinations and 309 FotoFinder examinations to check for skin cancers

Abnormalities were detected in approximately 4,6% of these cases.

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