4 May 2016
Whether we live in the city or the country, most Australians
spend a significant portion of their time behind the wheel of a
car. But could our driving habits be unwittingly increasing our
risk of skin cancer through increased exposure to ultra-violet (UV)
Two Perth-based doctors, Dr Hardeep Jhattu and Mr Jeremy
Rawlins, today posed this question to the Royal Australasian
College of Surgeons' Annual Scientific Congress in Brisbane.
The doctors believe that given the heavy reliance on car use in
Australia, more research is needed as to whether drivers are placed
at increased risk of sun damage through exposure to UV rays.
"Exposure to UV rays is one of the strongest risk factors
associated with skin cancer. This is a well-publicised fact and
thanks to various public health campaigns over the years, I think
most Australians are aware of this," Dr Jhattu said.
"However, what a lot people might not be aware of are the two
different types of UV Rays; UVA and UVB. While UVB rays are unable
to penetrate glass, UVA rays easily penetrate surfaces, such as
sunroofs and windows."
Dr Jhattu, and senior surgeon Mr Rawlins, are currently
conducting a retrospective analysis of the particular areas of the
body in post-operative patients with skin cancer at Fiona Stanley
They hope their research can be used to inspire further
investigation into the issue and will provide additional guidance
to road users.
"Recent studies in the US have shown that the incidence of skin
cancer is more common on the left-hand side of the body (the
driver's side of the car), but to date there are no comprehensive
studies in Australia," Dr Jhattu said.
"The aim of the study isn't to suggest that people should stop
driving cars as we recognise that this is a necessity for most
"However, if the results do point towards a greater prevalence
of skin cancer on the driver's side of the body, hopefully we can
raise awareness of this, and help guide prevention strategies to
minimise the risk of skin cancer in the future."
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