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Minister says wearing hats is smart thing to do

14 November 2000 Media Statement

Minister says wearing hats is the smart thing to do

Health Minister Annette King has urged New Zealanders to wear hats outside tomorrow to recognise the importance of National Hat Day and SunSmart Week.

'In fact, smart New Zealanders will wear hats whenever they go outside particularly in spring and summer," Mrs King said.

"Special events like National Hat Day provide an ideal opportunity to remind people just how dangerous New Zealand can be.

"New Zealand has the highest death rate from melanoma in the world. Each year about 200 people die from melanoma, and another 50 die from other preventable skin cancers.

"Such statistics should wake us all up. There are about 1800 new cases of melanoma each year, and about 45,000 new non-melanoma skin cancer cases are confirmed by laboratory tests annually. About seven percent of them are in people aged under 30."

Mrs King said it was important to remember that most melanomas and skin cancers were completely curable if they were treated in their early stages. "So if there is something you are worried about, please get it checked out.

"But it is even more important as far as most people are concerned to be smart enough to recognise that melanomas and other skin cancers can be avoided in the first place.

"The messages are simple. Cover up. Slap on the 30+sunscreen. Keep out of the most fierce rays of the sun, and seek shade whenever possible. In other words, be a smart New Zealander."

Mrs King praised the work of the Health Sponsorship Council, the Cancer Society, and health organisations and professionals who helped New Zealanders live longer by preaching the SunSmart message.

"I am particularly pleased you target young people with the message. There are many older New Zealanders who wish they had been targeted when they were young."

ENDS

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