DARK CHOCOLATE, A WELCOME SAVIOUR

DARK CHOCOLATE, A WELCOME SAVIOUR

SKIN HEALTH: One of our fans – Hannah McDonald – happened across this great excerpt from the August edition of Cosmopolitan magazine: Sugar is a well-known detriment to the health of our skin except, interestingly, in the case of dark chocolate! Wrongly thought to aggravate acne, dark chocolate with at least 60% cacao helps skin stay hydrated and protects it from sun damage. Get munching babes!
— PS: stay tuned for more food related posts regarding skin protection!

UV RAYS

UV RAYS

“Spring is here! Don’t forget, even if its not hot, if the UV level is 3 or above, you need to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide!”

An awesome tip from Cancer Council Australia – Many people take note of the time of day where the UV is highest in order to maximise the colour they gain to their skin when lying outside. Instead, plan activities where you can enjoy the weather without exposing yourself to the harm of the sun. Anything from lunching at an outdoor restaurant, to climbing the Harbour Bridge! Resist those wrinkles youngsters, there’s way cooler things to do than tan that wont leave you rottenly raisin-ed by 30!

A perfect tip on this sweltering day!

TANOREXIA

There could be no clearer sign indicative of the prevalence of tanning as an issue in our culture than the admission of the word ‘tanorexia’ into the Oxford dictionary:

noun

[mass noun] informal – blend of ‘tan’ and ‘anorexia’

  • An obsessive desire to acquire and maintain a suntan, by natural or artificial methods: “she is one of a growing number of teenagers thought to be suffering from tanorexia”

And the worst part is, it’s was coined way back in the ’80s.

The condition has drawn much attention as of late thanks to Patricia Krentcil, a mum in the US who last year was “accused of letting her 5-year-old daughter go in a tanning booth.” According to this Huffington Post article, ‘the owner of the tanning salon that Krentcil reportedly frequented said that she ‘tanned about 20 times a month, and about five days a week.’ Excessive tanning can be considered a form of addiction in certain sufferers who may require psychological assistance to overcome it. In fact, a 2010 study in the journal Archives of Dermatology indicated that despite every one of their interviewees (who were college aged tanning bed users) knowing about the risks of skin cancer as a result of tanning, 98% of them said that this knowledge didn’t deter them.

Thanks to mainstream media, tanorexia, like anorexia, has been born out of a culture that relishes in the scrutinising of body image and sets very restrictive guidelines on how people should look in order to appear attractive. The worst part is that many sufferers resort to solariums to try to achieve a ‘natural’ tan, but according to the Skin Cancer Foundation: indoor tanning is particularly dangerous with users being 74% more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.

With Tumblr pages dedicated to showcasing examples, and blogs intended to help answer your question of whether you are a suffer; tanorexia is clearly a real issue born out of a mindset we know dates back centuries. Thankfully though, the likening of a tanning obsession to the serious health condition anorexia, of which many are now well educated on, highlights that at least people are starting to become aware of the severity and implications of tanning, especially as a result of excessive sun exposure. Sites such as these tanorexia tumblr pages are fantastic in that they are sparking a dialogue, particularly young people, about the unattractive side of looking overly tanned.

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While I do not in any way vindicate the ridiculing of anyone, especially if they have a real problem such as an addiction, the particular condition of tanorexia has been born out of a social stigma that is just unnecessary and it needs to be spoken about as a negative health issue. Thankfully, people are starting to take note. The more people are exposed to the unattractive side of tanning, the less likely it is that they will pursue the look.

Don’t forget, even if its not hot, if the UV level is 3 or above, you need to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide!

Don’t forget, even if its not hot, if the UV level is 3 or above, you need to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide!

Spring is here! Another awesome tip from Cancer Council Australia – Many people take note of the time of day where the UV is highest in order to maximise the colour they gain to their skin when lying outside. Instead, plan activities where you can enjoy the weather without exposing yourself to the harm of the sun. Anything from lunching at an outdoor restaurant, to climbing the Harbour Bridge! Resist those wrinkles youngsters, there’s way cooler things to do than tan that wont leave you rottenly raisin-ed by 30!

To set the record straight – ban the tan.

Considering the prevalence of skin cancer and skin related diseases in our country, and the fact that they are mostly a direct result of excessive sun exposure; I would argue that the Australian government does an “okay” job of raising awareness of the issue across the general population. Undeniably, most people are familiar with some of the more prominent campaigns over recent years that sought to educate on the dangers of sun exposure. This includes the infamous  ‘Slip Slop Slap‘ slogan and accompanying television advertisement launched in 1981 – which has now been altered to include ‘Seek’ and ‘Slide’, sadly to the detriment of the “ring” slogan – which came about at a time when knowledge of the link between UV radiation and skin cancer was only just beginning to surface and become widely known. It remains one of the most successful health campaigns in our country’s history; however, since then, there really hasn’t been much in the way of ‘groundbreaking society changing’ campaigns since, most likely because everyone now knows of the dangers and links to sun exposure and cancer. So the job is really only half done.

It is inexplicable and irresponsible that with skin cancer rates continuing to rise, despite this abundance of information and advice available to Australians, that more is not being done to curb the trend. Awareness is clearly not enough, so I say the government is only doing an “okay” job of addressing this issue for the key fact that they seem to be failing to target the real core of the issue, or at least what I perceive it to be. There is a blatantly obvious stigma among Australians, particularly young people (and it is when you are young that you do the most significant and long lasting damage to your skin), that being tanned is more attractive. This is what needs to be changed. It will be hard as it is truly engrained in many Western societies, a remnant of social class categorisation from centuries ago, that is doing so much harm to the health of our society. Admittedly, the more recent ‘The Dark Side of Tanning – There’s nothing healthy about a tan‘ campaign by the NSW government scraped the surface of the issue, at least in identifying its existence. But again, this is not enough. There needs to be a real and proactive push for this change, for us to get amongst young people, through education and involvement, to change this attitude. Fashion magazines/idols/role models could and should all play a part because at the end of the day, they are what help drive superficial trends anyway.

So this is where Shun the Sun comes in. This is what sets it apart from just being a ‘sun protection awareness’ campaign. I want to go deeper, I want to try to change society’s deeply engrained views of tanning, to really achieve a change that will finally see a dip in skin cancer rates.

Lets start from the beginning.

“A tan is not a sign of good health or wellbeing, despite many Australians referring to a ‘healthy tan’. Almost half of Australian adults still hold the misguided belief that a tan looks healthy.” – Cancer Council Australia

This sentiment, scary as it sounds, is exactly the issue that I’m trying to address, if not adamantly tackle. I could count on two hands the number of people I know how have been diagnosed with some form of skin cancer – although thankfully know of no fatalities. But I dare say that this is unusual and in Australian society, will become more so. Take my Dad’s fiancé, a personal example that I regularly draw on: one long-term ex-boyfriends from her youth was a strapping young Spanish boy with naturally dark olive skin, yet he was always meticulous about staying out of the sun and, if forced to be exposed to its harsh rays, would always cover up. He died of melanoma in his late 20s. Yet I look at so many of my friends who, at the sign of any sunshine, rush outdoors to the nearest area of unobstructed rays and lie. Often without sunscreen, always without protective clothing, never with a hat; only sheltered by their sunglasses (you’d look uncool without your shades, dah). And all to achieve that desired ‘I’ve just come back from the Bahamas’ look, all year round. Lets be real, no one (who I know anyway) can afford weekly trips to the Caribbean and frankly, I’m finding myself wonder more and more, why would you want to? When you look at Australia’s skin cancer stats it’s really, really, frightening:

Every year, in Australia:

  • Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
  • Between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
  • The incidence of skin cancer is 2-3 times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
  • Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70

[Cancer Council Australia, 2013]

We have a hot, harsh climate that we cant avoid at least a minimal level of exposure to through the carrying out of our daily lives; why then do we so many of us, particularly the youngsters, feel the need to bake ourselves at every other opportunity we get? It’s a social stigma that I find really interesting, not least because of its roots that date back centuries where initially pale skin was considered more beautiful and a sign of wealth. This trend changed along with the advance of industry technology so that pale skin was deemed a sign of poverty.

My focus, however, is the attitudes of Australian youth because, as I mentioned, it is something that is quite strikingly noticeable in my own life and experiences. Plus, the fact that it is young people who are particularly subscribing to this trend is most definitely reflected in this stat:

“Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, melanoma is the most common cancer in Australians aged 15-44 years.”
[Cancer Council Australia, 2013]

So here I am, ready to make a stand against ‘fans of tans’, hoping to encourage the embrace of natural skin tones of all shades.

Cancer Council Australia, 2013, accessed September 11, 2013 <http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer.html>