You and Your CourseOpportunities
Research and Teaching
Our ResearchResearch Degrees
Partners and Community
Partner with JCU
- About JCUPartner with JCU
- Careers and Employability
- College of Healthcare Sciences
- College of Medicine and Dentistry
- Division of Tropical Environments and Societies
- International Students
- JCU Eduquarium
- Open Day
- Parents and Partners
- Pathways to University
- JCU Connect
- Scholarships @ JCU
- Media & Comms
- Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine
- About JCU
Featured News Small changes to uniforms protect kids
Small changes to uniforms protect kids
Small uniform changes to protect our school kids
November 5, 2014
James Cook University researchers have found lengthening school uniforms would give students much greater protection from skin cancer.
The study shows lengthening school shorts, skirts and sleeves just a small amount or choosing loose-fitting garments to cover more skin could significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer.
A study led by doctoral student Denise Turner and her supervisor Dr Simone Harrison, Director and Principal Research Fellow at JCU’s Skin Cancer Research Unit, looked at more than 100 schools in Townsville, Cairns and Atherton.
“The majority of school pupils in this high risk region for skin cancer wore school uniforms that only covered a small proportion of the upper arm and thighs (see fig 1 below – left panel). Our study found that by lengthening the average covering to the knees and elbows we could increase sun protection by just over 9 percent,” said Dr Harrison (see fig 1 below – right panel).
“It doesn’t require a re-design of the uniform, just small alterations or choosing loose-fitting garments, so it’s a big gain for a little effort.”
The study found wide variations in how standard school uniforms protected children from the sun, with pupils from smaller, rural and educationally disadvantaged schools generally having less protective school clothing.
It also found the uniforms of Cancer Council Queensland SunSmart accredited schools and the uniforms of schools not enrolled in the program provided equal amounts of protection.
Dr Harrison said there is an opportunity to make changes to the Australian and New Zealand Standard for assessing sun protective clothing, which is currently under review.
“The labelling system for sun protective clothing would be more informative for consumers if it took into account the body surface covered by the garment as well as the UPF of the fabric.”
An experiment with outdoor workers in north Queensland by another JCU researcher, Wade Sinclair, found their body core and skin temperature was similar whether they wore long or short pants. Children in an earlier study in north Queensland, led by Dr Harrison, also reported no significant discomfort in longer loose-fitting clothes.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the research was encouraging.
“This study shows even small alterations to school uniforms can make a big difference in reducing the risk of skin cancer in Queensland children,” Ms Clift said.
“Children spend most of their week in a school environment during peak UV times, and we need to ensure they have the best protection against skin damage and skin cancer.
“Cancer Council welcomes any improvements that schools may wish to make to their uniforms to better protect their students.”
Dr Harrison is trialing a comprehensive sun protection program intervention program in Townsville schools. She hopes JCU and Cancer Council Queensland will join forces to further strengthen the SunSmart schools programme through their work on hat wearing, sun safe policies and shade.
Magnetic Island State School has re-designed its uniforms for next year based on Dr Harrison’s research. Photos are available of the new sun-safe uniform. Magnetic Island State School P&C, Mrs Kath Smith, can be contacted on 0427 954 430.
Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Around 3,000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the state each year.
Around 99 per cent of all skin cancer cases are caused by exposure to UV radiation.
The numbers of pigmented moles a person develops is a major risk factor for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Mole development is related to sun exposure in genetically susceptible people.
Dr Simone Harrison
P: (07) 4433 1749
M: 042 348 9083
Mrs Kath Smith
Magnetic Island State School P&C
P: (07) 4758 2333
Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson
Cancer Council of Queensland
P: (07) 3634 5372
M: 0409 001 171
- James Cook University
- Bachelor of Advanced Science
- Bachelor of Arts
- Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences
- Bachelor of Business
- Bachelor of Business / Laws
- Bachelor of Business & Environmental Science
- Bachelor of Dental Surgery
- Bachelor of Early Childhood Education
- Bachelor of Primary Education
- Bachelor of Secondary Education
- Bachelor of Environmental Practice
- Bachelor of Geology
- Bachelor of Information Technology
- Bachelor of Laws
- Bachelor of Nursing Science (External)
- Bachelor of Midwifery
- Bachelor of Pharmacy
- Bachelor of Physiotherapy
- Bachelor of Planning
- Bachelor of Psychological Science
- Bachelor of Science
- Bachelor of Social Work
- Bachelor of Speech Pathology
- Bachelor of Sport & Exercise Science
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science
- Bachelor of Clinical Sciences (Honours)
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
- Bachelor of Engineering / Science (Honours) MBA in Tourism
- Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
- Master of Data Science
- Bachelor of Sports Psychology
- Bachelor of Marine Science
- Bachelor of Medicine / Surgery
- Bachelor of Nursing Science [Pre-Registration]
- Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (Honours)
- Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours)
- Bachelor of Psychology
- Master of Conflict Management & Resolution
- Graduate Certificate of Conflict Management & Resolution
- Master of Global Development
- Master of International Tourism & Hospitality Management
- Bachelor of Technology and Innovation
- Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Laws
- Diploma of Higher Education
- Diploma of Higher Education (Business)
- Diploma of Higher Education Majoring in Business Studies
- Diploma of Higher Education Majoring in Engineering and Applied Science
- Diploma of Higher Education Majoring in General Studies
- Diploma of Higher Education Majoring in Health
- Diploma of Higher Education Majoring in Information Technology
- Diploma of Higher Education Majoring in Science
- Diploma of Higher Education, Majoring in Society and Culture