Skin cancer is one of the most commonest cancers in the world and its incidence is increasing. Skin cancer or malignant melanoma is the ninth most common cancer in Europe, with more than 100,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (3% of the total). Amongst golfers its incidence is higher, not surprisingly, since sun damage is the main cause of skin cancer and golfers get plenty of sun. Golfers are exposed to at least four hours during an 18-hole round. Natural shade from trees is often hard to find, unless your ball spends quite a bit of time outside the fairway.
Don’t get caught out by the sun. Sun damage can be prevented by following some very simple tips:
- It’s obvious but easily forgotten: sunscreen - to be applied and re-applied regularly. Use an SPF of 30 or higher and a sport formula which is sweat resistant. And remember to reapply every two hours, or more often if you are sweating heavily. It’s best to keep the sunscreen in your golf bag so you won’t get caught out by the sun.
- Wear a hat or a visor. But don’t forget to cover your ears and neck with sunscreen as these areas are still exposed. If you are a man and bolding a hat is preferable rather than a visor.
- Don’t forget your eyes and wear sunglasses. Look for a pair that will block 99-100 percent of UV radiation, protecting the eye, eyelid and surrounding areas.
- Cover up as much of your body as possible with long sleeves and pants.
- Be vigilant about any changes in the appearance of skin moles. As a matter of fact you should go and have your moles checked regularly by a dermatologist, once a year.
- Whenever possible, schedule your rounds very early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is less intense. Avoid playing golf between peak sun hours 10:00 - 16:00.
- While trees may not be your friend on the course, there are other ways to get shade and to protect your skin from those dangerous UV rays. There are covers that can be placed on golf carts and umbrellas that are designed for UV protection.
For more information on how golfers can protect themselves from the sun check out www.sunsafetee.org.
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