Kiwis are being urged to apply sunscreen as part of their morning routine, following new research on its merits in preventing sun damage.

The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute - the body responsible for sun safety advice in Australia and New Zealand - has adopted the new policy.

The change followed a national Sunscreen Summit in Brisbane last year.

An article published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health on Friday said there was now clear evidence on the benefits of daily sunscreen use.


QIMR institute professor Rachel Neale, who co-led the research article, said incidental exposure to the sun happened daily, from activities like walking to the bus stop.

"In recent years, it has become clear that the DNA damage that causes skin cancer and melanoma accumulates with repeated small doses of sunlight.

"Up until now, most public health organisations have recommended applying sunscreen ahead of planned outdoor activities but haven't specifically recommended applying it every day as part of a morning routine," she said.

"The advice is now simple: make sunscreen part of your morning routine, just like brushing your teeth."

While many of the findings were related specifically to Australia, the advice was also applicable to New Zealand.

Craig Sinclair, the Cancer Council Australia's Prevention Advisor, said adoption of this advice could lead to a reduction of skin cancer rates in the future.

Another worrying thing that cropped up from the research was that nearly half of Australians believed sunscreen could not be used safely on a daily basis.

Dr Stephen Shumack from the Australasian College of Dermatologists said it was important people continued to use other forms of sun protection, if planning on spending longer periods of time outdoors.


"People need to remember that sunscreen isn't a suit of armour," he said.

"If you're planning outdoors activities – like playing or watching sport, going fishing or working outdoors – you should also seek shade, wear a hat, protective clothing and sunglasses, and reapply your sunscreen every two hours."

The advice follows on from rresearch released last year, showing New Zealand had the world's worst rate of deaths from malignant skin melanoma.

Our rates of the cancer was 6.6 per 100,000 people - around six times the global average.