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.
Advertisement"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 precautions.
"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 population.
"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 tell-tale signs.
"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 hepatitis C.
"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 the drugs.
"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 previously.
"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 or ill-health.
"Doctors are a great source of information about the health risks associated with summer holiday season activities," Dr Pesce said.
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