Men’s Health Week (MHW) 2019 commenced on Monday. Today, Wednesday June 12, the key theme is Cancer Awareness Matters. To mark this, the GAA have teamed up with the Marie Keating Foundation, an official GAA charity for 2019, to promote their ‘Skin C(h)ancer’ campaign.
Whether you’re a player or supporter at this summer’s championship, don’t be a ‘skin c(h)ancer’.
Research reveals that Irish men have the highest mortality rate from melanoma skin cancer in Europe. Another startling fact is that the incidence of melanoma skin cancer has more than tripled in the two decades from 1994 to 2014. The death rate from skin cancer in Ireland is higher than in Australia. While the number of skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma) cases a year in both men and women is over 11,000 – it is the most common cancer in Ireland.
Some Simple Steps in the Sun
· Wear sunscreen– with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30+ for adults and 50+ for children, with high UVA protection, and water resistant, apply generously and regularly, ideally every two hours
· Seek shade – especially from 11am to 3pm when UV rays are strongest, keep babies and children out of direct sunlight
· Cover up – with long sleeved clothing and a hat, clothes made from close-woven material does not allow sunlight through
· Wear sunglasses – with lenses that have UV protection
· Wear a hat- protect your face, ears and neck
· Never ever use sunbeds – even just once, as they cause lasting damage
· Check your skin- look for changes in moles and freckles
· Do not deliberately try to get a suntan
· Avoid getting a sunburn
· Know the UV index- When the UV index is 3 or above you need to protect your skin. In Ireland, the UV index is usually 3 or above from April to September, even when it is cloudy.
At the ‘Skin C(h)ancer’ campaign launch, CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation and malignant melanoma survivor, Liz Yeates said “530 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in Irish men each year, resulting in 88 deaths annually. We’ve launched this campaign to give Irish men a wake-up call and encourage them to take their skin’s health seriously. We are appealing to all men including farmers, gardeners, construction workers and anyone who plays sports outdoors , asking them to not only take their health and safety seriously by wearing high vis vests, gum shields, helmets etc but also to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by following the SunSmart code.
Former Kilkenny hurler and Marie Keating ambassador, Eddie Brennan, said “Having grown up on the family farm and working as a Garda since 1998 I would have spent so much time outside and I would never really have been aware of the dangers or thought much about the harm I was doing to my skin. This campaign has made me think back and realise that for years I was out in the sun whether it was farming or on the mountain bike or on the beat or even on the hurling pitch, completely exposed. This campaign is spot on in terms of speaking to men – it’s just about education and making sure we are aware of the risks so we can properly protect our skin but often men can be worst at doing this. Small changes like wearing sunscreen, a hat and staying in the shade where possible, will make a big difference and hopefully this campaign will get through with its message.”
Also speaking at the launch was Helen Forristal, Director of Nursing Services for the Marie Keating Foundation, who said, “Our research shows that a fifth (20%) of Irish men are not aware of the visible signs of skin cancer, which is worrying as skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer if you are careful. You need to be vigilant by knowing your skin-type and checking your skin on a regular basis. Look out for any changes in moles or freckles. If you notice a change in colour, size or shape, bleeding, crusting or itching visit your GP as soon as you can because when melanoma is caught early, it can be treated and the response to treatment can be very effective.”
The Marie Keating Foundation’s message is simple; Don’t take the chance, protect your skin.”
For more information on skin cancer prevention click here.