IFA and Irish Cancer Society Launch Sunsmart Advice for Farmers and Outdoor Workers

Be Smart – Protect Your Skin on the Farm – The Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) have joined forces to remind farmers, farm families and outdoor workers of the importance of protecting their skin to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in Ireland with over 10,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year, however the disease can be prevented in nine out of ten cases.

The Society and the IFA have a leaflet ‘Be Smart – Protect Your Skin on the Farm’ which is available online and will be distributed to farm families over the summer months. The leaflet contains useful information on how to protect your skin when outdoors.

The main cause of skin cancer is harmful ultra violet (UV) rays from the sun. UV rays can be harmful from April to September, from 11am in the morning until 3pm in the afternoon. UV rays can be present on both sunny as well as cool and cloudy days.

Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager at the Irish Cancer Society said: “Farmers and their families, who spend most of their time working or playing outdoors are at risk of skin cancer. Whether it is sunny or cloudy, it’s important to protect your skin from April to September as you cannot see or feel the UV rays which cause damage to the skin. Up to 90 per cent of UV rays can get through light cloud and it doesn’t have to be a warm and sunny day for dangerous UV rays to be present. Even on cool days UV levels can be high enough to damage skin. Follow the Irish Cancer Society’s SunSmart Code for best protection.”

IFA President Joe Healy said: “To reduce your risk of skin damage, organise your day around the sun’s UV rays as much as you can. Plan your jobs so that you are in the shade when UV rays are strongest from 11am to 3pm. It’s also important to check your skin once a month for any changes. If you notice anything unusual, go to your doctor and get it checked out.”

Follow the Irish Cancer Society’s SunSmart Code to stay safe in the sun and reduce their risk of developing skin cancer:

The SunSmart Code

• SEEK SHADE: when UV rays are at their strongest – generally between 11am and 3pm.
• COVER UP: by wearing a shirt with a collar and long shorts. Also wear a hat that gives shade to your face, neck and ears.
• WEAR WRAPAROUND SUNGLASSES: make sure they give UV protection.
• SLOP ON SUNSCREEN: Use sunscreen with SPF 15 (SPF30 for children) or higher and UVA protection 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours – more often if swimming or perspiring.
• CHECK the UV index – www.cancer.ie/uvindex
• Keep babies under six months out of the sun.

For more information on skin cancer or how to be SunSmart, visit www.cancer.ie/Sunsmart or call the Irish Cancer Society’s Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700.

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