Golfers, remember sunscreen higher skin cancer risk

Golfers, remember sunscreen higher skin cancer risk

Golfing and Skin Cancer: Protecting Yourself while Enjoying the Greens

Golfing is a beloved classic summer pastime that allows people to enjoy the outdoors. It has been known to have numerous health benefits, including physical, mental, and cognitive well-being. However, a recent study from Australia has brought attention to the increased risk of skin cancer associated with spending long hours on the greens without adequate sun protection.

Skin cancer rates in Australia are notably high, attributed to the country’s frequency and intensity of sun exposure. The study found that more than one-quarter of golfers in Australia have been diagnosed with skin cancer at some point, making them 2.4 times more likely to develop the disease than non-golfing individuals. However, it is important to note that the cumulative effects of sun exposure increase the risk of skin cancer worldwide, regardless of location.

The research compared health information from an online survey of 336 golfers with data from nearly 16,000 Australians in the general public. The results revealed that only 7% of the general public reported a skin cancer diagnosis, while a significant 27% of golfers had been diagnosed. This suggests that golfers face a nearly 250% greater risk of developing skin cancer than non-players.

Skin cancer is a global concern, with one in every three cancers being skin-related. Annually, approximately 2 to 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 potentially fatal melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed worldwide.

The study’s lead author, Brad Stenner, emphasizes that prolonged sun exposure and/or not using skin protection strategies contribute to the higher risk among golfers. While the study did not collect data on actual exposure levels to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, it is well-established that UVR exposure is a significant cause of skin cancer.

Stenner advises all golfers, including younger players, to take necessary precautions to reduce the risk of skin cancer. These precautions include wearing broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses, high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen that should be reapplied regularly, and long sleeves or trousers if possible. If short sleeves and shorts are chosen, it is important to apply sunscreen to the exposed arms and legs.

###### QUESTION Self-examination is important in the detection of skin cancer.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of SPF, whether in your clothing, your sunblock,” says Ashani Weeraratna, a professor and chair of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She recommends using broad-spectrum sunblock that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with a minimum SPF of 30. Applying sunscreen every 90 minutes, especially when sweating or swimming, and wearing good sunglasses are also essential, as melanoma can occur in the eyes.

While sun exposure is a significant risk factor for skin cancer, it is essential to acknowledge other factors such as light skin tone, eye color, hair color, alcohol use, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and being overweight. Dr. Arif Kamal, Chief Patient Officer with the American Cancer Society, agrees with Stenner’s advice on reducing sun exposure during mid-day, wearing clothing that covers areas where sunscreen is challenging to apply, and being aware of skin changes and promptly reporting them to a doctor.

The findings of this study were published online in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, raising awareness about the increased risk of skin cancer among golfers. It serves as a reminder for all golf enthusiasts to prioritize their skin health while indulging in their passion for this beloved sport.

More information

For more information about skin cancer, visit the American Cancer Society. ##### SOURCES 1. Brad Stenner, PhD, lecturer, Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity, Allied Health and Human Performance, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. 2. Ashani T. Weeraratna, PhD, professor and chair, biochemistry and molecular biology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. 3. Arif H. Kamal, MD, MHS, chief patient officer, American Cancer Society. 4. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, July 20, 2023, online.