First International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention

May 06, 2011 No Comments by

The incidence and prevention of skin cancers has become a global concern.  The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that prolonged human exposure to solar UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects of the skin, eyes  and immune system, including skin cancer.   This global epidemic has prompted the first International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention, jointly sponsored by the WHO, the Danish Cancer Society, TrygFonden and the Cancer Council Victoria.

The meeting of the best and brightest in skin cancer prevention took place in Copenhagen, Denmark May 3-5, 2011.  The main objective of the conference was to create an active international community working in the field of skin cancer prevention.  After three days of sessions and workshops, characterized by engaging presentations and relevant discussion, a list of outcomes was established.  A summary of those conference outcomes are listed below.

A comprehensive approach to skin cancer prevention needed.

Communicating sun safety using a multifaceted approach incorporating media channels and initiatives targeting schools and workplaces has been seen to successfully influence behaviour and attitudes. Funding is vital for results.

Vitamin D and sun protection can be combined.

The conclusion was that sun protection and vitamin D are not contradictory and protecting against the sun does not lead to vitamin D deficiency. People should not overexpose themselves to the sun or use sunbeds to increase vitamin D levels.

Sun protection is relevant for everyone.

It is never too late to protect yourself against sunburn and over exposure to the sun. Sunburn and UV exposure both in adulthood and childhood increase the risk of skin cancer. This makes sun protection, such as seeking shade, covering up or wearing sun screen on exposed skin, necessary for everyone, regardless of age.

Tanning beds are harmful.

The message on use of sunbeds was clear: They are harmful and are not recommended as a source of vitamin D. The intense UV exposure from sunbeds has already made the WHO advise against their use for people under 35 years old. Many countries have banned sunbeds for young people under 18 years old while Brazil has even banned their use for everyone regardless of age.

Governments need to prioritize skin cancer prevention.

Governments should give skin cancer prevention the same priority as other health issues such as fighting obesity and increasing exercise levels in the population. Prevention initiatives have been shown to achieve results and cost significantly less than the cost of skin cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Enjoy the sun but take care during recreational activities.

People living in Northern countries can continue to enjoy the sun as part of their daily lives but should take care to avoid overexposure during their leisure and recreational activities.

This collaboration is a monumental step in the fight against skin cancer.   By working together globally, we can share our collective knowledge and resources for the most effective methods of skin cancer prevention.  All of us at Coolibar are  looking forward to the next conference in 2013 taking place in Berlin Germany.

Patron of the conference HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark gave her support to the conference by taking on the official role as patron and by speaking at the closing event.  She is involved in a campaign to raise awareness and sun safe practices among Danes about skin cancer through The Danish Cancer Society.

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

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