Men who spend long periods of time outdoors are being urged to protect themselves against the sun, perhaps because many have a tendency not to bother.
Farmers, builders, sportsmen and gardeners are all being targeted by NHS England South’s “Cover Up, Mate” campaign because of their prolonged exposure to the sun. The BHS believes men are much less likely to think about putting on sunscreen or covering exposed skin.
Yet, men need to take the risk of skin cancer seriously. The number of cases of men with skin cancer is rising faster than the rate for women.
- That tan we all clamour for is a sign of skin damage – not health – and if you already have one, it may offer only factor 3 protection
- getting painful sunburn, just once every two years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer;
- you’re at higher risk of skin cancer if you have fair skin, moles or freckles, red or fair hair, or light-coloured eyes; and
- the highest risk months in the UK are May to September when UV rates are higher.
- spend time in the shade if you can
- make sure you never burn
- cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
- use at least factor 15 sunscreen
The earlier skin cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat, so see your GP as soon as possible if any moles or freckles change size or shape.
A recent Imperial College study, commissioned by IOSH estimated that there are 48 deaths and 241 cases of melanoma skin cancer a year in Britain caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun at work. Of these, construction workers made up the highest number of deaths (44%), followed by agriculture workers (23%).
Research also indicates that men are worse at protecting themselves from the sun. A YouGov survey, commissioned by Cancer Research UK, found that more than 50 per cent more men than women forget to protect their skin and, worryingly, 75 per cent more men than women are not worried about getting sunburnt.
Construction, agricultural and horticultural businesses are also being asked to sign up to a pledge to encourage their employees to protect against the sun.
Companies can sign up to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) No Time to Lose campaign and get free practical resources such as videos, case studies and posters.