We Are Sunshine

New Zealand cancer officials are missing the point when it comes to melanoma

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Anti-sun messaging has not slowed increases in melanoma in New Zealand — particularly in older men — which has Kiwi health officials completely missing the point: They have aimed their melanoma messages at the wrong groups.

2008-10-20-melano-men-tanningnews-copy.jpg“It is so conspicuous and obvious that their campaigns — which are directed at young women but not at older men — have made older men think that you have to be a tanner to get melanoma, and that simply isn’t the case and never has been the case,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Public education campaigns about melanoma should be directed primarily at older men, but Big Dermatology and its partners keep directing messages at younger women, even thought melanoma mortality in that demographic is decreasing worldwide, but is increasing in older men.”

New Zealand officials expressed their frustration about this in an article in the New Zealand Herald, where they acknowledged that sun awareness programs have not impacted melanoma statistics.

“They don’t get it,” Levy said. “They are missing the point and missing the right demographic. In the story, they say they need to increase their efforts at educating young people, when it is still older men who are most at risk. The fact that they are so vocal about young people to the exclusion of campaigns at middle-aged and older people is part of the problem. They are their own worst enemies.”

In North America, melanoma mortality has been decreasing in women under age 50 for 20 years, while it is increasing most rapidly in men over age 50.

“We have the same problem in North America,” Levy said. “Big Dermatology is directing the message at young women, who also happen to be the biggest purchasers of skin care products and dermatology services. And older men are being left out of advisories, even though they are the ones most at risk. It’s tragic.”

To read the story in the New Zealand Herald click here.