Heat over Australian chef's sunscreen comments

WITH 15 Central Queenslanders dying from melanoma every year, Cancer Council Queensland's Katie Clift is urging the community to listen to the facts after Pete Evans caused a stir nation-wide this week.

The My Kitchen Rules judge has been under fire after suggesting sunscreen was "poisonous".

His comments follow a damning criticism from the Dieticians Association of Australia last year, when he suggested a harmful bone-broth meal for newborns.

"The silly thing is, people put on normal chemical sunscreen then lay out in the sun for hours on end and think that they are safe because they have covered themselves in poisonous chemicals which is a recipe for disaster," Mr Evans said.

BE SUN SMART: Applying a thick layer of sunscreen is one of the best forms of sun protection.
BE SUN SMART: Applying a thick layer of sunscreen is one of the best forms of sun protection. Thinkstock

But Ms Clift wanted to remind the community that skin damage can occur in as little as 10 minutes.

"There is no evidence to suggest that chemicals in sunscreen are dangerous or cause skin cancer - ingredients are regulated and approved by the TGA and research has demonstrated the effectiveness of sunscreen in helping to prevent melanoma," she said.

"Just because you don't burn doesn't mean you aren't at risk of skin cancer - a tan is a sign of skin damage.

"Skin damage can occur in as little as 10-15 minutes if you're outdoors without protection."

About 130 Central Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year and about 15 die from the disease.

Queensland has a melanoma incidence rate of 71 cases per 100,000 people, vastly exceeding rates in all other jurisdictions nationally and internationally.

Ms Clift said Queenslanders should Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies when outdoors to give them the best chance to reduce their risk of skin cancer.

Skin facts

  • Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australian men, after prostate and bowel cancer and it accounted for 10% of all their cancers in 2011.
  • Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australian women, after breast and bowel cancer, and it accounted for 9% of all their cancers in 2011.
  • More than 13,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in Australia in 2016.
  • Melanoma represents 2% of all skin cancers, but causes 75% of skin cancer deaths.
  • 48,937 are living with melanoma.