CANCER Council Queensland is shocked by research showing more than 97 per cent of Queensland adults place themselves at increased risk of skin cancer during winter.
According to the latest Self Reported Health Status survey, only 2.5 per cent of adults practice all five recommended sun protective behaviours in winter - Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.
Adults aged 18-24 years are the least SunSmart, with less than 1 per cent practicing all five winter sun safety behaviours.
Adults aged 25-34 years are the most vigilant with sun protection - with 4 per cent following all five recommendations.
Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said the relaxation of SunSmart habits was likely due to misconceptions about chilly temperatures and vitamin D requirements.
"Don't believe the misconceptions - sun protection is required when the UV Index is 3 and above - even on cloudy, cold and overcast days," she said.
"Here in Queensland, the UV Index is 3 and above all year round - so sun protection is required all year round.
"We're concerned about misconceptions around vitamin D and sun exposure in Queensland leading to reduced sun protective behaviours or even intentional sun exposure.
"We only need a small amount of sun exposure to receive adequate vitamin D, and we usually get it through incidental exposure - putting clothes on the washing line, or walking to collect the mail.
"It's crucial that Queenslanders make sun safety a priority in winter - our state has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world."
Each year in Queensland 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers and 3000 melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed.
Cancer Council Queensland is warning parents to be particularly vigilant about keeping their kids SunSmart, as the school term ends and the winter sporting season begins.
"Queenslanders need to make sun safety a priority, and ensure they use all five recommended sun-protective behaviours to best reduce their risk of skin cancer," Ms Clift said.
"Slip on protective clothing, Slop on SPF30 or above broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunglasses.
"Parents, stay vigilant about your child's sun protection. Extended sun exposure in childhood greatly increases the long-term risk of skin cancer."
More information about Cancer Council Queensland, and being SunSmart, is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or by calling Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.