On May 8th, Hugh Jackman sent out an Instagram urging people to wear sunscreen. It came after his second bout in less than a year with a basal cell carcinoma on his face. In his Instagram, Jackman urged people to PLEASE, PLEASE, WEAR SUNSCREEN!
In a recent ABC News article, Jackman specifically mentions the importance of kids wearing sunscreen—something he didn’t do as a child. “I don’t want kids to be as stupid as me and maybe they’ll listen to Wolverine more than they’ll listen to teachers at school, said Jackman”. Isn’t it great to have a Hollywood celebrity—especially one as popular as Jackman—sending out this message to kids? And he’s absolutely right about how important it is for kids to wear sunscreen.
Not Enough Kids Wearing Sunscreen—
A recently published study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that only about 1 in 4 pre-adolescent children regularly put on sunscreen. Alarmingly, when checked three years later, half of the children who had reported wearing sunscreen at the beginning of the study, no longer used it. This is especially concerning considering that it only takes one major sunburn as a child to double the chance for skin cancer later in adulthood.
Since most people who will read this blog are adults, we want to emphasize to parents how important it is to help children develop the positive habit of wearing sunscreen early in life. And not only to make sure they wear sunscreen, but help them understand “why” they need to wear it. Understanding UV radiation and how it damages skin is a key incentive for maintaining sun-safe habits.
A Skin Cancer Epidemic—
According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, the latest figures show that Skin Cancer has truly become an epidemic. It is now the world’s most common cancer, and there will be well over 3 million people in the US develop non-melanoma skin cancer this year. There are more new skin cancer cases annually now than breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer COMBINED!
Interestingly, people who have had a basal cell carcinoma (non-melanoma) cancer—like the one Hugh Jackman had removed—experience twice the risk of developing other malignancies such as lung, colon and breast cancer. If left untreated, a non-melanoma skin cancer can at the very least be disfiguring when it is finally removed, and at worst contribute to other cancer in the body.
The Bottom Line—
Given his recent run-in with skin cancer, it’s easy to see why Hugh Jackman is talking about sunscreen. It’s pretty normal for us, as adults, to lament a little as we get older about things we did (or didn’t) do when we were younger. When Hugh was a boy, there probably wasn’t near the awareness about the dangers of sunburn as there are today. So as adults, let’s get on board with the Wolverine, and make sure our kids are “sunsmart”. They’ll thank us down the road when they don’t need to have chunks of their ear or nose removed.