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Simple advice to reduce your risk of skin cancer
13 June 2018

As part of the national Cover Up Mate campaign health professionals are urging men who spend long periods of time outdoors to cover up and protect themselves from the sun. 

Farmers, builders, sportsmen and gardeners are all being targeted because of their prolonged exposure to the sun. Men are a particular focus because research indicates that they are much less likely than women to slap on the sunscreen.

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and can be fatal. From May to September ultraviolet (UV) rates are higher and even on cool days you can still get sunburn as UV rays cannot be felt. People with fair skin, moles, freckles, red or fair hair, or light coloured eyes are at more risk of burning. Statistics show that getting painful sunburn, just once every two years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.

Helen Pole, Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, said: “Summer has arrived and of course we want people to enjoy the sunshine, but safely, and that means taking some simple steps to protect themselves. Our skin tans in response to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and sunbeds. However, these UV rays can damage the skin cells, increasing the risk of skin cancer and accelerating skin ageing. Sun burn is a sign of skin damage, which your body will try to repair it’s not a sign of health.”

The NHS advice on staying safe in the sun is:

  • Spend time in the shade
  • Make sure you never burn
  • Cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
  • Use at least factor 15 sunscreen and reapply every few hours

Helen Pole continued: “Taking time to put on sunscreen, making sure you wear a hat, especially if you have little to no hair, protecting your eyes and avoiding the sun at peak times will reduce your risks of skin damage. Skin cancer is highly preventable by following this simple advice. If you are concerned in any way about any moles or freckles, if they have changed size or shape, please don’t leave them, go and see your GP as soon as possible and get them checked. The earlier skin cancer is caught, the easier it is for us to treat.”

Find out more about skin cancer and sun safety at www.nhs.uk and search Live Well / Summer Health.

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