Balancing the risks and benefits of sun exposure: A revised position statement for Australian adults

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2024 Feb;48(1):100117. doi: 10.1016/j.anzjph.2023.100117. Epub 2024 Feb 12.


Objective: To describe the development of a new position statement regarding balancing the risks and benefits of sun exposure for Australian adults.

Methods: We conducted a Sun Exposure Summit in March 2021, with presentations from invited experts and a workshop including representation from academic, clinical, policy, and patient stakeholder organisations. The group considered advice about balancing the risks and benefits of sun exposure for Australian adults and developed a revised consensus position statement.

Results: The balance of risks and benefits of sun exposure is not the same for everybody. For people at very high risk of skin cancer, the risks of exposure likely outweigh the benefits; sun protection is essential. Conversely, people with deeply pigmented skin are at low risk of skin cancer but at high risk of vitamin D deficiency; routine sun protection is not recommended. For those at intermediate risk of skin cancer, sun protection remains a priority, but individuals may obtain sufficient sun exposure to maintain adequate vitamin D status.

Conclusions: The new position statement provides sun exposure advice that explicitly recognises the differing needs of Australia's diverse population.

Implications for public health: Mass communication campaigns should retain the focus on skin cancer prevention. The new position statement will support the delivery of personalised advice.

Keywords: policy; skin cancer; sun exposure; vitamin D.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / prevention & control


  • Vitamin D