HEALTH AND CARE: Outdoor workers urged to Cover Up, Mate

The Cover Up, Mate campaign was launched on Monday
The Cover Up, Mate campaign was launched on Monday
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Men who spend a lot of time outdoors are being urged to protect themselves against the sun this week.

‘Cover Up, Mate’ is a new NHS campaign that was launched on Monday to target men who work in agriculture, construction, gardeners and sports-players, who don’t often wear sunscreen.

Skin cancer rates are higher than average in this region and the number of people being diagnosed is rising.

Health experts are warning that every time you burn or tan you are causing irreversible damage to your skin that accumulates over time.

The head and neck are the most common areas for non-melonoma skin cancers as they are the most exposed but people frequently forget to protect ourselves properly when out in the sun.

Most cases of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, could have been prevented by appropriate skin protection.

Latest statistics from Cancer Research show that since the late 1970s skin cancer incidence rates have more than quadrupled (360 per cent increase) in the UK.

The increase is larger in men where rates have increased more than six-fold (544 per cent increase), compared to women where rates have more than tripled (263 per cent increase).

Public Health England also statistics show that many local areas across the South have higher rates of malignant melanoma than the national average.

Between 2005 and 2014, incidence of malignant melanoma in men rose by 47.3 per cent in the South East.

Deaths by malignant melanoma in this time also rose by 34.6 per cent.

The ‘Cover Up, Mate’ campaign urges men who spend long periods of time outdoors to protect themselves against the sun.

It is 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 per cent), followed by agriculture workers (23 per cent).

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.

Important stats show that:

• A tan is a sign of skin damage – not health.

• Getting painful sunburn, just once every two years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.

• You are at higher risk of skin cancer if you have fair skin, moles or freckles, red or fair hair, or light-coloured eyes.

• The highest risk months in the UK are May to September when UV rates are higher.

Official NHS advice on staying safe in the sun is:

• Spend time in the shade if you can.

• Make sure you never burn.

• n 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.

Read more, including tips and advice to stay well in the sun: www.nhs.uk/livewell/skin/pages/sunsafe.aspx

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