Slip-Slop-Slap is the name of a health campaign in Australia exhorting people to ‘slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat’ when they go out into the sun, in order to protect themselves against an increased risk of skin cancer. ‘Seek shade’ and ‘Slide on some sunglasses’ was added a year later. It is probably Australia’s most recognizable health message. The campaign started in 1981; its mascot is a seagull called Sid. It is also used in New Zealand, where the mascot is a lobster, and some Canadian cities have also started their own Slip-Slop-Slap campaigns.

Since the campaign was introduced along with advertisements and a jingle, the incidence of the two most common forms of skin cancer (basal and squamous cell carcinoma) in Australia has decreased. However, the incidence of melanoma – the most lethal form of skin cancer – has increased. An epidimological study published in 2002 concluded that skin cancer increases could not be associated with the use of sun creams, and recommended continued use of the current campaigns as a means to reduce melanoma risk. Vitamin D deficiency has also greatly increased (which can lead to cancers, since sunblock also prevents vitamin D production in the skin. Doctors recommend spending small amounts of time in the sun without sun protection to ensure adequate production of vitamin D.


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