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Shady Days Ahead For Cancer Society

A study which found that shade was lacking at beaches and playgrounds highlights the need for further work to be done in this area, the Cancer Society said today.

“While parents are pretty good at protecting their children from the sun, their efforts are being thwarted somewhat by a lack of shade,” said Liz Price, Cancer Society Health Promotion Programme Manager.

The study, carried out by the Social and Behavioural Research in Cancer Group at Otago University’s Dunedin Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, examined sun protection among New Zealand children 10 years and under at beaches and playgrounds. Sun protection surveys were carried out in the summers of 1998, 1999 and 2000.

“The levels of sun protection among the children observed were high and seemed to show an increased awareness among caregivers for the need to be SunSmart. However, few children were protected by shade - which is not surprising give the lack of shade structures at most beaches and parks.”

Ms Price said the Cancer Society has worked with schools for a number of years, encouraging them to provide shade. She said that the Society was concerned that the excellent work done by schools was being undermined by the lack of shade at many public parks and pools. The Society was now widening its focus and looking to work with other bodies, such as local councils, to try to improve shade provided in places like pools and parks.

“Shade is an important element of sun protection. Personal protection, such as hats, clothing and sunscreen can only go so far.”

“A single sunburning episode as a child can increase your risk of melanoma as an adult. Therefore it is really important that places like swimming pools, where children may spend many hours during summer, offer adequate shelter from the sun.”

The Cancer Society is also talking to Standards New Zealand about the development of standards for shade cloth, and is looking to produce shade guidelines for use by sports clubs, local bodies and employers of outdoor workers.

Ends

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