Do you know what these are? The Cancer Council Australia has recently added 2 new S’s to their famous motto, with Seek (shade) and Slide (on some sunglasses).

I was lucky enough to organise some questions for Professor Sanchia Aranda, the CEO and #bosswoman, after hearing her speak at a recent brunch. I have a giveaway of some Pepper Pig 50 SPF Sunscreen, so have a read and then enter!


Professor Sanchia Aranda

TBB: Professor, what made you take on the huge role of CEO of the Cancer Council? Was it a progression up, or was this a change of pace from something else for you?

SA: I have worked for 35 years in cancer control as a clinician, researcher, educator and senior healthcare administrator. I started my career as a registered nurse, specialising in cancer and palliative care. Across that time I have had unique opportunities to see firsthand the advances being made in prevention and treatment of cancer and also to understand that not everyone benefits from these advances in the same way. My motivation to make a real impact on cancer outcomes for all people affected by cancer led me first into a Government role and now to Cancer Council Australia.

I was delighted to join cancer Council Australia as CEO in August 2015 having been engaged with the organisation over many years. My aim is to work with the Cancer Council Australia team, and with our member Cancer Councils across each state and territory, to continually improve cancer outcomes in Australia through our research investment, our prevention programs, the fabulous support services we offer and through the policy work we undertake that informs how we best make a different.

TBB: Do you think that as Australians in 2016, we take our skin checks and sun safety seriously?

SA: While Australia has some of the best sun safety awareness in the world there is still so much more we need to do to raise awareness and change Australians’ relationship with the sun given that 2 out of 3 of us will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 and 2000 people will die each year.

Recent research released by Cancer Council showed that over 10 million Aussies don’t wear a hat when out in the sun on summer weekends. Because of this we are seeing more and more people getting sunburnt on their face, head, nose or ears. 

Only 1 in 5 adults uses 3 or more of the 5 recommended sun protection measures during summer, which is a real worry given the prevalence of skin cancer in Australia.

The start of summer is a great time for us all to remember the importance of being SunSmart and following Cancer Council’s five important steps to sun protection: slip, slop, slap, seek (shade) and slide (on sunglasses).

The use of all 5 is also something I want to stress as important. There can be a tendency for many Australians to slop on some sunscreen and think they’re protected all day. But sunscreen isn’t a suit of armour, needs to be reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming or towelling off. It is also important that people use enough sunscreen each time, 5 mls for each limb, back and front. Sunscreen should be seen as your last line of defence in the context of also using a broadbrim hat, clothing, sunglasses and shade.

A healthy skin habit is to get to know your skin type and regularly check your skin for new spots and changes to existing spots or moles. Skin types that are more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer. All skin types can be damaged by too much UV radiation and there is no skin type immune to the development of skin cancer but fair skinned people do burn more easily and are more likely to develop skin cancer.

Keep a close eye on your skin and see your doctor straight away if you notice any new spots, or spots or moles that change colour, shape or size. Use the ABCD Guide to spotting melanoma

  • A is for asymmetrical – Look for spots that lack symmetry.
  • B is for Border – A spot with a spreading or irregular edge (notched)
  • C is for colour – Blotchy spots with a number of colours such as black, blue, red, white and/or grey.
  • D is for Diameter – Look for spots that are getting bigger

TBB: What triggered the move to change the 3 S’s into 5?

SA: In 1981 Sid the seagull was the face of one of Australia’s most successful health campaigns! He wasn’t just cute, he also told us all to Slip Slop Slap. Because the messaging of those Cancer Council ads was successful it quickly caught on with the community helped change Aussie attitudes towards sun protection. And more importantly behaviours also started to change!

In 2007, Cancer Council added two extra elements. So now we all have to Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide! The new elements reflect the importance of seeking shade and sliding on wraparound sunglasses when it comes to sun protection.

Shade is a great way to significantly reduce UV exposure. You could find a tree, sit under a shade cloth or use portable shades including the tents you see lots of people using at the beach these days.

Our eyes are also an important part of the equation when it comes to sun protection because UV exposure can damage the eyes, including short term complaints such as swelling and in the long term more serious damage including cataracts and skin cancer of the eye lid.

When you’re at the shops thinking about treating yourself to a new pair of sunnies, it’s worth having a look at a few other elements beyond the latest frames. Close fitting, wrap around styles that meet Australian Standards are best – look for the words ‘good UV protection’ on the label and categories 2, 3 or 4. Also, some sunglasses have an eye protection factor (EPF rating) – EPF 9 or 10 exceed the Australian Standard and block almost all UV radiation and polarised sunglasses reduce glare and make it easier to see on a sunny day. It’s important to note that some of the sunglasses sold for children are just toys and do not meet the requirements under the Australian Standard and should not be used for sun protection.

TBB: I found out recently that your legs are the highest place a woman gets melanoma – how can we remind mums and women all over to not forget themselves when applying family sunscreen?

SA: Melanoma is a type of skin cancer and most commonly  occurs on the parts of the body that have been overexposed to UV – e.g. the arms, legs, head, ears and face. Melanomas can also occur in parts of the skin or body that have never been exposed to the sun.

Anecdotally, some women have told me that they think the skin on their legs isn’t as sensitive as the rest of the body and they think it’s safe to tan their legs, but this simply isn’t true. Even if you don’t burn you are still putting yourself at risk, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.

In terms of the stats, the National Sun Protection Survey data shows us that there has been a drop in the number of people using clothing to cover their legs in peak UV times on the weekend. Why not invest in some beautiful maxi skirts this summer – they always look chic and will help keep your legs covered when the UV is above 3.

TBB: What makes the Cancer Council’s products like sunscreen, stand out from the rest?

SA: The great thing about Cancer Council’s sunscreens is that they come in a wide range of formulas for different activities.  Cancer Council’s sunscreens offer something for everyone including scented aerosol formulas for mums, active formulas for sporty dads and the Finding Dory range which the kids will love.

There are lots of different sunscreens available these days. Look for one that is broad spectrum and has an SPF of 30 or higher. If the sunscreen meets those requirements, it’s fine to use. Sunscreens in Australia are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration who make sure that all sunscreen ingredients (including any chemicals) are approved and safe for regular use.

One of the most important things is to choose one that you like using, apply liberally, reapply often and use it in conjunction with the four other forms of sun protection.

TBB: What’s the biggest reason we should wear 50+ instead of 30+?

SA: Cancer Council recommends using any sunscreen that is labelled broad spectrum, water-resistant and SPF30 or above.

SPF50+ offers slightly better protection from Ultra Violet B (UVB) radiation than SPF30+. SPF50+ filters out 98% of UVB radiation compared to 96.7% blocked by SPF30+.

SPF50+ sunscreen still needs to be applied just as liberally, re-applied every two hours (or after swimming, exercising and towel drying) and used in combination with other sun protection measures including sun protective hats, protective clothing, sunglasses and shade.

TBB: If you could invite 4 people to Christmas, dead or alive, who would you invite and why?


  • My mum, just so I could have one more Christmas with her.
  • Florence Nightingale so that I could pick her amazing brain. Did you know that she was a pioneer in the field of epidemiology and sanitation?
  • Bill Gates so that I could convince him that his foundation should invest in cancer programs in low and middle income countries.
  • Michelle Obama just because I want to figure out if she is as smart as she appears.



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