The Secret Cancer

Melanoma is now the most common cancer in the UK amongst 15 to 34 year olds. More than 13,000 people develop the disease every year compared with around 1,800 in 1975. It's rising faster than any other cancer, so why is it still our best kept secret?

Melanoma is now the most common cancer in the UK amongst 15 to 34 year olds. More than 13,000 people develop the disease every year compared with around 1,800 in 1975. It's rising faster than any other cancer, so why is it still our best kept secret? It is a well-known fact that cigarettes, a poor diet, alcohol and stress can contribute to certain cancers, but- getting outside and enjoying the sunshine? The fact is that sunshine is good for us - in small doses: the danger comes from prolonged exposure. The Price of a Tan We all know that sunburn is a sign of skin damage, but so is a tan - remember that there is no such thing as a 'healthy tan'. As well as the increased risk of melanoma, this change of colour will speed up ageing of the skin, making it leathery, mottled, dry and wrinkled; facts worth telling those who insist on using sunbeds to give them a healthy glow. Outdoor Workers It is not only tan seekers who need to revise their habitsĀ - amongst the most vulnerable are those who work outside, including:

  • Sports coaches
  • Farm workers
  • Construction workers
  • Scaffolders
  • PE teachers
  • Market gardeners
  • Professional sportspeople
  • Builders
  • Some public service workers

Many of these roles dictate spending a high percentage of work time under the sun, but how many outdoor workersproperly protect themselves during their working day in the summer? Get the Sun Protection Habit By adopting some simple preventative measures, you can help to protect your skin. These include:

  • Keeping a top on and ideally wearing closely woven fabrics
  • Wearing a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck
  • Seeking shade during work breaks and especially around lunch time
  • Using a high factor sunscreen (SPF30+) on any exposed skin
  • Avoiding dehydration by drinking lots of water

In addition, as early detection of melanoma is vital, it is recommended that you should check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots and see a GP immediately if anything seems wrong i.e. changing in shape, size, colour or thickness, bleeding, or itching Good habits start young As it is always easier to adopt good habits in childhood, the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund has recently launched the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, designed to 'blow the whistle on sunburn' by providing specific guidelines for all those who work outdoors with children. This initiative encourages the practice of leading by example, showing kids that everyone needs to think about sun protection. Whether you work with children or not, this sun safety code can be beneficial in showing you the correct safety practices to adopt when spending time in the sun, particularly if your job involves a lot of outdoor work. Putting a stop to Melanoma In order to halt the spread of this particularly nasty and largely preventable disease, everyone needs to be more vigilant. With predictions that 2014 will be one of the hottest summers on record, we should by all means enjoy the sunshine, but remember to enjoy it responsibly! For further details on melanoma, visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk.