Australian celebrity paleo chef, Pete Evans, has been rebuffed by the skin cancer community and the Australian Medical Association. Skin cancer patients, including ABC presenter Mark Colvin, have been sharing their surgical scars on Facebook criticizing Evans’ irresponsible stance on sun protection.
Chef Pete Evans has been challenged by these communities for a comment he has made on his Facebook page regarding the use of sunscreens. Evans claimed not to use sunscreen as he keeps an all over tan, all year round and then stated that ‘normal sunscreen’ contained poisonous chemicals.
“The silly thing is people put on normal chemical sunscreen then lay out in the sun for hours on end and think that they are safe because they have covered themselves in poisonous chemicals which is a recipe for disaster as we are witnessing these days” stated Evans. He then goes on to state “we need to respect the sun but not hide from it either as it is so beneficial for us, but use common sense.”
Dr Sally Shaw from Peninsula Skin Cancer Centre agrees with the later comment from Evans that the sun needs to be respected and that we all need some sunshine for vitamin D production but she is extremely frustrated by Evans’ comments on poisonous chemicals in sunscreen.
“For the first time in decades the melanoma rate in our younger generation is dropping and that is because of our sun protection programs like Slip Slop Slap” said Dr Sally Shaw. “We have a generation that has grown up with sunscreen and so we are now seeing a reduction in skin cancers for this age group. The melanoma rate in older generations is still rising as this is the generation who grew up without sunscreen. We see evidence of this trend every day at our skin cancer clinics, treating over 360 melanomas and over 4000 non-melanoma skin cancers last year on patients predominantly over 60 years.”
“Australia has one of the most regulated sunscreen industries in the world as sunscreens are classified as medicines and hence must be tested and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration” said Dr Shaw. “The Australian public can have complete confidence that the sunscreens produced and sold in Australia do not have poisonous chemicals in them and they potentially save lives”.
“There will be some people that may have an allergic reaction to some of the ingredients used in sunscreen, so it is important to find one that is well tolerated by your skin. There are many TGA approved sunscreens that use predominantly zinc or titanium dioxide that are suitable for sensitive skin types. Also, check the labelling of the sunscreen bottle to ensure it has an official SPF (sun protection factor) rating. The product promoted by Pete Evans, SurfMud, has not been tested by the TGA and therefore cannot be classified as a sunscreen. Whilst the ingredients for SurfMud contain the same chemical zinc oxide as used in the majority of sunscreens, it doesn’t have an SPF rating and therefore the public cannot be advised as on the products efficacy and when to reapply”.
“Pete Evans ill-advised comments on sunscreen can potentially harm the fight against skin cancer in Australia, a fight that we were beginning to win in younger age groups. The last thing we need now is for Australians to turn their back on using sun protection”.