Farmers warned about serious skin cancer risks

With those perfect summer conditions just around the corner, farmers have been warned that they have a high risk of developing potentially fatal skin cancers – from spending long hours working outdoors.

According to the Irish Cancer Society, 23% of skin cancers occur in people who work out-of-doors. With summer approaching, the group wants farmers and builders in particular to be keenly aware of the risks of sun exposure.

More than 10,000 Irish people are diagnosed with skin cancers every year, the majority among men.

The society points to British research which found that outdoor workers who were diagnosed with skin cancers were more likely than others to die from them; two out of every ten cases were fatal among farmers.

“In 2014, we had around one death every week in Ireland that was related to sun exposure at work. Coupled with the research from the UK, it shows just how extensive, and unfortunately fatal, sun damage can be for outdoor workers,” said Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager with the Irish Cancer Society.

It’s vital that we pay heed to this in Ireland this summer. You don’t have to live in a Mediterranean country for the sun to do damage to your skin.

The Irish Cancer Society’s campaign is being supported by the IFA.

“Farmers are outdoors from sunrise to sunset, and very often have no protection on their skin so are very vulnerable to skin cancer,” said IFA President Joe Healy.

“We want to encourage farmers to reduce their risk of sun damage by organising their day so that they are in the shade between 11am and 3pm, and check their skin regularly for changes.”

Staying ‘sun safe’

Sun-cream is a ‘tool’ which can be used or misused. It should be applied generously to exposed skin before going out, and applied a second time about half an hour later. Top up your coverage throughout the day, and don’t forget to apply it to skin exposed later on, when you start rolling up your sleeves for example.

Experts also recommend putting on sun-cream on overcast days, as the UV rays which cause skin cancers can penetrate cloud cover and lead to skin damage.

You can download the Irish Cancer Society’s advice leaflet on sun safety here.

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