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Melanoma rate highest in the world

Friday 1 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand now has the highest rate of melanoma skin cancer in the world – eclipsing Australia as the most dangerous place to be exposed to the sun.

New research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology has found New Zealand has 50 cases of melanoma per 100,000 people, compared with Australia’s 48.

While Australia’s incidence of melanoma has begun declining, New Zealand’s continues to rise, the report found.

Professor David Whiteman, who led the study, said the New Zealand government had failed to invest in adequate prevention, instead leaving the bulk of the work to charities like Melanoma New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s approach has been fragmented, piecemeal and with limited or no government support,” Whiteman said.

“The health minister needs to step up and show leadership on this issue because New Zealand is really lagging behind, and that costs lives.”

Whiteman said many New Zealanders’ Anglo-Celtic ancestry and outdoor lifestyles made them particularly vulnerable to sun damage.

New Zealand Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said he was not surprised by the research.

“We knew we had a high melanoma rate anyway and we’ve got to continue pushing those messages around prevention, covering up, making sure people are wearing sunscreen and hats,” he said.

- Guardian