Skin cancer is a global health issue and the most serious form is melanoma, which is doubling every ten to fifteen years. To raise awareness of the risks, a new sun protection campaign for golf has launched, offering specialist tips and advice to encourage better habits.
The advice offered here is just as relevant to greenkeepers and groundsmen.
Slip! Slap! Swing! was devised by the Melanoma Fund and is supported by 9 leading golf organisations, working collaboratively to promote a multi-national media campaign, targeting the UK's 4 million golfers. The sport is on the hot spot as:
• When: A round can lead to prolonged sun exposure during the hottest time of the day
• Where: Courses provide little shade, and highly UV reflective surfaces such as grass, water and sand
• How: Players tend to avoid reapplying sunscreen to avoid a 'greasy grip'
Many golfers believe their skin is 'seasoned' from years of UV exposure, or protected by a base tan, however the highest mortality rates from melanoma, are in older men who spend a lot of time outdoors, are less likely to use sunscreen, check their skin, or visit their GP with a concern.
Julia Newton Bishop, Professor of Dermatology at the University of Leeds, said: "Over exposure to the sun can cause all types of skin cancers, however it is sunburn that is scientifically proven to increase the risk of melanoma by 50%, especially in those with skin which burns easily or with more moles than average. This vital campaign is a wake-up call; it is never too late to look after your skin."
The campaign's top 5 tips are:
1. Keep sunscreen (SPF30+), sunglasses, a hat and large umbrella in your kit bag.
2. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before teeing off to ensure it is effective.
3. Reapply sunscreen every two hours using a sunscreen applicator to keep palms dry.
4. Use a chubby sunblock stick to protect lips, nose and ears, which are all prone to burning.
5. Check skin every month or so and if you spot any changes, visit your GP immediately.
Jamie Cundy and Kenton Wright are two PGA professionals who have both survived melanoma. They feature in a short awareness film to launch the campaign with the message; 'when you focus on your swing, it's easy to forget about your skin, however, lowering your skin cancer risk should be just as important as lowering your handicap'.
All 2,800 golf clubs in the UK have been issued with awareness posters and will be urged to share the film and campaign link on-line to their members. With summer heat-waves becoming more common place, the aim will be to arm golfer with the facts on protection, early detection and prevention of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, keeping the sport healthy for everyone.
For further information visit the Melanoma Fund website.