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Skin Cancer is Riskier Than Cycling

By December 11, 2010 6 Comments


%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%


Dear %short_title% %last_name%,

RE: Bicycle Helmets & Skin Cancer Prevention

I am writing to you to consider relaxing the all-age mandatory bicycle helmet law in %state% to help reduce the risk of skin cancer among bicycle users.

Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, at nearly four times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK. In Australia 434,000 people are treated for non-melanoma skin cancers each year, of which 420 will die. For melanoma the figures are worse, with 10,300 treated and 1,430 dying each year. By comparison, in 2008 only 27 cyclists died in Australia.

Skin cancer costs our society in excess of $294 million per year – for treatment. This does not include the cost of the deaths to society. The Cancer Council of Australia recommends the ‘use of a hat to protect the face, neck & ears’, however bicycle helmet design, the standard and the law makes this impossible.

%state% law requires that cyclist wear a properly fitting helmet that complies with the AS/NZS 2063 Standard. However, Section 9(d) of the Australian Standard for Bicycle Helmets states:

  • “No attachments should be made to the helmet except those recommended by the helmet manufacturer.”

Section 5.3.3 of the Australian Standard for Bicycle Helmets states:

  • “The helmet should have no internal projections or irregularities likely to cause injury to the wearer in case of an accident.

Modifications which would reduce the bicycle rider’s sun exposure, for example wearing a baseball style cap under the helmet, would be a breach of this clause and therefor the law. Furthermore, even if a cap is worn under a bicycle helmet, their design is such that the hat will offer little protection to the ears & neck. Helmets, by their very nature, prevent the wearing of large brimmed hats.

Could you please inform me as to why you and the government support helmet laws that expose cyclists to risks nearly 50 times greater than cycling




Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Non-melanoma skin cancer: general practice consultations, hospitalisation and mortality. Canberra, 2008.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australasian Association of Cancer Registries, Australian cancer incidence and mortality workbooks. Canberra, 2008.

Staples M, Elwood M, Burton R, Williams J, Marks R, Giles G. Non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia: the 2002 national survey and trends since 1985. Medical Journal of Australia 2006;184 (1): 6-10.

Cancer Council Australia (www.cancer.org.au)


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