Surfers are at increased risk of skin cancer – Precautions to take

Each year various surfing events are held at Jeffreys Bay, including the World Championship Tour event, the Corona Open JBay.

Known as being home to the worlds best wave, surfers from different countries arrive frequently to ride the waves.

Even the odd shark encounters do not seem to put them off. But surfers have something else to worry about other than the sharks – skin cancer

Surfers are three times more likely to get melanoma skin cancer that those who do not surf according to a study conducted by Bond University in Australia in 2015.

This may not surprise most given the long hours surfers spend out in the sun but the figure is quite alarming. New Zealand, one of the most favoured destinations by surfers, has recently taken over Australia as the world’s skin cancer capital.

Given the fact that South Africa also has climatic conditions similar to Australia and New Zealand, here are a few precautions that could be extremely helpful

Keep re-applying the sunscreen

The Cancer Association of South Africa has stated that the UV levels in South Africa are among the highest in the world.

This directly results in high skin cancer rates, among the highest in the world. Surfers must keep this in mind and apply a lot of sunscreen. But repeated contact with water will wash the sunscreen off. So the key is to keep reapplying it whenever you start feeling a little heat

Recently the NCRI Cancer Conference was held in Glasgow. A study was presented in the conference which said that male mortality rate due to melanoma is increasing but female mortality rates are either stable or decreased.

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Dr. Dorothy Yang, the head of research, pointed to the evidence that men are less likely to take precautionary measures and as a result more prone to skin cancer. So do keep the study in mind the next time you head out to display your masculinity.

Avoid surfing when the sun is at its peak

The sun is ninety three million miles away and yet it can burn your skin from that far out. Thanks to earth’s rotational movement the temperature varies throughout the day. It goes from calm in the morning to boiling in the afternoon to bearable in the evening.

There are two advantages of surfing in the morning or evening – first it is good for you skin and second the waves can be excellent during these times. Also it is highly inadvisable to surf when the sun is burning because the UV rays are the strongest then.

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Moles – A cause for alarm

Moles are not a cause for concern usually they are just a clump of pigments which contain cells called melanocytes.

However the moles are easily susceptible to formation of melanomas, the most dangerous of skin cancers.

It is normal if you notice some growth in the mole after years of its first appearance. However if sudden changes in growth, colour and shape are noticed it is best to see your dermatologist

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