The Australian summer heat is here to stay and with it, the ever-increasing risk of skin cancer.

As global temperatures continue to skyrocket due to climate change, so does the prevalence of this disease, with Illawarra’s extreme forecasted weather promoting unsafe sun exposure. 

With heat waves predicted well into next year and locals soaking up the sun’s warm rays along the coast, are Illawarra residents arming themselves against the harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays?

Sam Marx, a lecturer at The University of Wollongong’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, explained that the changes in the Earth’s system and ozone layer forced by human activity continue to alter the distribution of UV on Earth, bringing about a greater potential for skin cancer this summer.

“As there are changes in the atmosphere related to the effects of warming, there’s potential changes in the distribution and the amount of UV radiation that we’re receiving at Earth’s surface, so that would lead to greater potential exposure of humans to UV radiation,” Marx said.

The rising temperatures have fostered sun safety complacency among Australians, as the beach-going weather fuels longer, unprotected periods in the sun, ultimately raising the risk of lifelong consequences for individuals like Dave Hicks, who was diagnosed with skin cancer on his eyelid. 

“I didn’t know it was particularly serious at the time, and that actually involved cutting a little slit in my lower eyelid, cutting it out and then sewing the eyelid back together,” Hicks said. 

The number of skin cancer victims only continues to grow, and with UV responsible for around 95 percent of skin cancers in Australia, locals are being urged to heighten their awareness of the dangers associated with UV radiation and the importance of sun safety this summer.

So chuck on a hat, slip, slop, slap, and receive regular skin checks this summer to protect yourself from the UV-damaging effects.