What is UV radiation and why is UV protection important?

The sun produces sunlight that we see, infrared radiation (heat) that we feel and ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can’t be seen or felt. UV radiation has the potential to damage our skin and eyes as well as cause various skin cancers.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Two in three Australians will get some form of skin cancer before the age of 70 with more than 2000 skin cancer deaths per year (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015).

The intensity of UV radiation is measured using a UV index scale.

Exposure to unprotected UV at levels measured at moderate or above can result in both short term and long term impacts:

  • Skin damage
    • Sunburn
    • Tanning
    • Premature ageing
  • Eye damage
  • Skin cancer
    • Melanoma
    • Squamous and Basal cell carcinomas

UV damage is a result of overexposure to UV radiation, highlighting the importance as to why sun protection is vital, particularly during outdoor sport which exposes individuals to UV for extended periods of time.

UV damage accumulated during childhood and adolescence is strongly associated with an increased risk of skin cancer in later life.

NOTE: A few minutes of sun exposure during low UV levels can assist with vitamin D levels, a hormone that contributes to bone and muscle health. For more information on Vitamin D, click on the links below.

What is Vitamin D

The Benefits of Vitamin D

Skin can be sunburnt in as little as 11 minutes on a clear summer’s day in Victoria” (SunSmart)

Skin cancer causes more deaths than transport accidents every year in Australia” (Australian Bureau of Statistics)