The AMA advises Australians to increase their enjoyment of
Christmas and the holiday season this year by making informed choices about
their health and avoiding risky behaviour.
AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that summer is
great for families, friends, festivities, food, fun and outdoor recreation, but
it is also a time when people can take unnecessary risks with their health.
"People can have a truly memorable holiday for all the right
reasons if they look after their health by avoiding risky behaviour and making
informed choices," Dr Pesce said.
"It is very easy for people to have accidents or put their
health at risk, but it isn't hard to stay safe and healthy by taking simple
"The holiday season is a good time for people to take extra
care with their skin," Dr Pesce said.
"The summer sun poses great danger to people's skin, with
melanomas and carcinomas occurring at very high rates in the Australian
"Precautions such as hats and sunscreen and limiting direct
exposure to the sun are all-important.
"An emerging medical concern for skin care is the increasing
popularity of tattoos, especially among young people.
"Summer is a popular time of year for people to get tattoos.
"However, few people are aware that tattoos may hinder the
diagnosis of a range of skin conditions, including skin cancer, by masking the
"Body piercing is another increasingly popular activity
among young people that may present serious health risks.
"Tongue, lip and cheek piercing complications can cause
speech impediments, breathing problems, tooth decay and broken teeth.
"Young people especially should seriously study the health
effects of tattoos and body piercing, and not be influenced solely by fashion
or peer pressure," Dr Pesce said.
"If, despite these health risks, people choose to get
tattoos or body piercing, they must ensure that the procedures are conducted by
an appropriately qualified professional who has the necessary training and
equipment to prevent the transmission of diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, and
"Summer is also a time of year for parties where young
people may consider experimenting with illicit drugs," Dr Pesce said.
"Party drugs carry very real health risks.
"People have no control over the content or the strength of
"You can never be sure of what you are taking or the impact
it will have on you or your friends, even if you have taken the drug
"Party drugs can lead to extreme risk taking, anti-social
behaviour, unsafe or non-consensual sex, overdoses, and sometimes death.
"Many people consume alcohol excessively during the festive
season," Dr Pesce said.
"Young people are especially vulnerable to the effects of
alcohol, and as a result may be more likely to experience impaired decision
making and exercise poor judgement.
"More than half of all serious alcohol-related road injuries
occur among 15-24-year-olds, and 13 per cent of deaths among 14-17-year-olds
are due to alcohol.
"The AMA will shortly release a brochure containing
information to help parents and young people to be aware of and discuss the
risks of excessive alcohol consumption."
Dr Pesce said that the AMA is encouraging Australians to be
aware of all the health risks - both short term and long term - of their
behaviour over the holiday season.
"Holidays should be all about happy memories, not accidents
"Doctors are a great
source of information about the health risks associated with summer holiday
season activities," Dr Pesce said.