Irish Cancer Society urges farmers to get SunSmart

The Irish Cancer Society is reminding farmers and farm families of the importance of protecting their skin throughout the summer months, to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in Ireland with over 11,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year. However, the disease can be prevented in nine out of 10 cases.

Kevin O’Hagan, cancer prevention manager with the Irish Cancer Society, advised farmers and farm workers to get SunSmart.

“To reduce risk of skin damage, we would advise farmers to organise their day so that they are in the shade when UV rays are strongest, usually from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

It is also advisable to check your skin once a month for any changes and if you notice anything unusual, go to your doctor and get it checked out.

Farmers who spend most of their time working outdoors are at a higher risk of skin cancer. Research conducted by the Irish Cancer Society found that one in four skin cancer deaths were from the construction and farming sectors.


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, Kevin said.

Up to 90% 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.

The ‘Be Smart – Protect Your Skin on the Farm’ is available on: It contains important advice and information for safe working practice to protect the skin.

The Irish Cancer Society advises following the SunSmart Code to reduce the risk by:

  • Seeking shade: UV rays are at their strongest generally between 11:00am and 3:00pm, so plan you day and seek shade during these hours;
  • Covering up: Wear a shirt with a collar and long shorts. Also wear a hat that gives shade to your face, neck and ears;
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses: See that they give UV protection;
  • Using sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and UVA protection 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, more often if swimming or perspiring;
  • Checking the UV index: Log onto:

For more information on skin cancer or how to be SunSmart, visit:; or call the Irish Cancer Society’s cancer nurseline on freephone: 1800-200-700.