Slip-Slop-Slap was the iconic and internationally recognised sun protection campaign prominent in Australia and New Zealand during the 1980s. Launched by Cancer Council Victoria in 1981, the Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign features a singing, dancing Sid Seagull encouraging people to reduce sun exposure and protect themselves against an increased risk of skin cancer. Sid had Australians slipping on long-sleeved clothing, slopping on sunscreen and slapping on a hat. This successful program was funded by public donations.
By this stage, however, the skin cancer awareness message of the campaign had successfully been absorbed into the Australian psyche.
Slip, Slop, Slap (and Wrap) was also used in New Zealand, where the mascot is a lobster, voiced by Ants from What Now. Some Canadian cities have also started their own Slip-Slop-Slap campaigns. In Britain, it was used on the "BBC Breakfast Programme" 27 June 2011 with Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams.
Since this campaign was introduced along with advertisements and a jingle, the incidence of the two most common forms of skin cancer (basal-cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) in Australia has decreased. However, the incidence of melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, has increased. An epidemiological 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.
The experience of more than 25 years of skin cancer prevention in Australia shows broad-based multifaceted public education programs can improve a population's sun protective behaviors and reducing sunburn, a short-term marker of skin cancer risk. Furthermore, declining skin cancer incidence in younger cohorts and economic assessment show skin cancer prevention programs are an eminently worthwhile investment.
The sun's UV radiation is both a major cause of skin cancer and the best natural source of vitamin D. The risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure needs to be balanced with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency in Australia has also greatly increased, since sunblock also reduces vitamin D production in the skin. Although sunscreens could almost entirely block the solar-induced production of cutaneous previtamin D3 on theoretical grounds or if administered under strictly controlled conditions, in practice they have not been shown to do so. This is mainly due to inadequacies in their application to the skin and because users of sunscreen may also expose themselves to more sun than non-users.
Doctors recommend spending small amounts of time in the sun without sun protection to ensure adequate production of vitamin D. Adequate amounts can be produced with moderate sun exposure to the face, arms and legs, averaging 5-30 minutes twice per week without sunscreen. (The darker the complexion, or the weaker the sunlight, the more minutes of exposure are needed, approximating 25% of the time for minimal sunburn. Vitamin D overdose is impossible from UV exposure; the skin reaches an equilibrium where the vitamin degrades as fast as it is created.)
A study published in 2009 examined the interaction between melanoma risk and Vitamin D from dietary and other sources, in a cohort of 68,611 men and women. It did not find a significant link between Vitamin D deficiency and melanoma risk.