The advice for parents is simple: wear sunscreen, wear a hat and wash your hands after touching a beach surface.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released a report that highlights the risks to young people’s health, including skin cancer and respiratory infections, and says the number of people aged 15-24 with cancer is on the rise.
It’s important to note that the number and types of skin cancers have changed dramatically in recent years, with the most common types affecting the face, neck, upper chest and chest.
The latest figures show that there were 1,621,664 new skin cancers diagnosed in 2017.
There were 796,839 new respiratory infections recorded in 2017, with more than half of those infections occurring in Queensland.
There are now more than 300,000 people living with cancer in Australia.
The ABS has also released a summary of its national skin cancer statistics for the year ending December 2017.
In 2016, there were more than 14,000 new skin cancer cases, with about one-third of those diagnosed being in Queensland, with NSW, Victoria and South Australia also having significant increases.
The report also found that Queensland had the highest rate of hospitalisation and intensive care admissions for cancer, with 1,051,094 admissions, the highest in the country.
“It is important to remember that the overall numbers are still very low,” ABS health statistician, Professor Michael Wilson, said.
“We need to keep the emphasis on skin cancer prevention, not just in Queensland but across the country.”
Professor Wilson said there were other important health benefits to wearing sunscreen: it reduces the risk of sunburns, helps with allergies, and reduces the risks of the skin becoming infected.
“I think that the fact that we’re talking about skin cancer as a cause of death is not really a surprising one because we know that skin cancer is a leading cause of preventable death,” he said.
Dr Andrew Withers, a paediatrician and senior consultant dermatologist at the University of Melbourne’s School of Public Health, said it was important for parents to understand that there was no absolute benefit to wearing a hat or mask while swimming or diving.
“The problem is that there are very few beach areas in Queensland where you can wear a mask and still have a good chance of getting good skin protection,” he told ABC News.
“There are a few places that you can’t swim in, but you still have the same amount of protection.”
What’s more, the report found that most beach visits were for the purpose of leisure, with a majority of those in the 15-19 age group spending time with their parents or carers.
However, some studies have suggested that some parents may not take a sunscreen-wearing approach because of the fear of getting sunburned, and it is also important to consider what the impact might be on a child’s ability to play in water.
“If they are very young they are more likely to be wearing their swimwear, or playing in the water,” Dr Witheres said.