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April 1995

Summer in AustraliaSkin Cancer and the Great SPF Debate

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine University of Melbourne St Vincent's Hospital CNR Princes and Regent streets Fitzroy, Victoria 3065, Australia

Arch Dermatol. 1995;131(4):462-464. doi:10.1001/archderm.1995.01690160090015

AUSTRALIA HAS the unenviable record of having the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.1,2 To balance that, education programs designed to reduce the incidence of these tumors have been running for many years and are the envy of many other countries.

There are data showing that in Australia the desire for a tan is decreasing, sun protection behaviors are increasing, and the population has adopted with extraordinary enthusiasm the Slip! (on a shirt) Slop! (on a sunscreen) Slap! (on a hat) program that was initiated over 15 years ago.3,4

Along with this change has gone considerable discussion, and at times lively debate, about the role of sunscreens in these programs and the value of sun protection factor (SPF) numbers as a way of promoting them. Once again the Sunscreen Committee of Standards Australia will be meeting to consider whether there should be a cap on the

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