HEALTH experts are urging men across Reading who spend a lot of time outdoors to take measures to protect themselves against the sun’s UV rays to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Skin cancer rates across the South East are higher than average, and are continuing to rise. The warnings come as new data suggests that the danger is not just confined to the hottest summer days. Winter-pale skin may have been damaged due to recent good weather in April and May – the mean ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels across the South East were 40 per cent higher than average in April, and 15 per cent higher in May. The current hot weather in Reading means UV radiation levels remain very high.
The Cover Up, Mate campaign aims to encourage men over 18, particularly those who work outdoors to protect themselves against the sun as they are at higher risk of skin cancer. Nationally there are almost 50 deaths a year due to skin cancer caused by working outdoors in the sun. Of these, construction workers made up the highest number of deaths (44%), followed by agriculture workers (23%).
Reading’s Lead Councillor for Health, Councillor Graeme Hoskin, said of the campaign:
“Incidence of skin cancer among men in Reading is increasing at an alarming rate – 65% in the past 10 years. I am glad this campaign is targeting men who are, worryingly, considerably less likely to precautions than women when out in the sun.
Here are some simple messages for men: spend time in the shade if you can, make sure you never burn, cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses and always use at least factor 15 sunscreen.”
Research shows 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.
Met Office spokeswoman Penny Tranter said: “UV levels in the UK are usually highest between April and October, particularly between 11am and 3pm. Clouds don’t always stop UV rays, and unlike the sun’s warmth, it’s difficult to know when they may be harming you. Burning just once every two years can triple your risk of skin cancer. So it’s important to keep up to date with our UV forecast so you know when it’s essential to protect your skin and eyes from damage.”
Notes to Editors
Cancer Research stats show that:
- 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.
- A tan is a sign of skin damage – not health – and 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.
Construction, agricultural and horticultural businesses are also being asked to sign up to a pledge to encourage their employees to protect against the sun. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) No Time to Lose campaign aims to raise awareness of occupational cancer, such as from solar radiation, and help businesses take action. Its pledge is a six-point action plan which includes assessing the risks and developing prevention strategies. IOSH has developed free practical resources such as videos, case studies, posters, available here.