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The average woman golfer will spend around 4 hours on the course – on a slow day even longer – and that’s a long time out in the sun. Remember that Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world. More than 11,500 Australian men and women are diagnosed with a melanoma each year, and an estimated 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers. Skin cancer accounts for over 80% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia each year.
Here’s some advice from the Cancer Council website to keep you out of those statistics. Go to www.cancer.org.au for all the facts.
How many times have you heard your Golf buddies say ‘it’s cloudy today so we’ll be all right’? Not so. UV radiation can be high even on cool and overcast days. Download the SunSmart app for iOS | Android | Samsung to keep track of the UV levels throughout the day and make sure you know when sun protection is needed.
Apply sunscreen liberally – at least a teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the body and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears. According to the Cancer Council most people don’t apply enough sunscreen resulting in only 50-80% of the protection stated on the product. Use a broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards – more often if sweating. Spray-on sunscreen’s a great addition to the golf bag – allows you to top up your cover without getting your hands covered in gunk. Neutrogena and the Cancer Council’s own are our favourites.
Keep as much of your skin covered as you can bear. Slip on sleeves are great and a lot cooler than they look. Use a cap and an umbrella to keep as much of your body protected as possible. Keep under the shade as much as you can.
Use sunglasses – and make sure they meet Australian Standards. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun doesn’t just damage the skin. It can lead to eye complaints such as cataracts and cancers on the surface of the eye. Nike, Oakley and others make sunglasses specifically for golfers.
Early detection of skin cancer is important. Make sure you check yourself regularly – including skin not regularly exposed to sun – and understand the pointers that indicate skin cancers. According to sources quoted by the Cancer Council the majority (55-70%) of melanomas are detected by patients themselves, or their partners. Consult your doctor or skin cancer specialist especially if you are at high risk – don’t put it off.