Many of us consider sun cream unnecessary and don't count the hours we spend exposed to the sun's rays. Yet this ambivalence costs many hundreds of lives and many thousands of lost hours in the workplace due to everything from serious cancer treatment down to heatstroke, dehydration and painful sunburn.
Latest figures reveal that more than 76,500cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are registered in the UK each year, however it is estimated that the actual number of people with non-melanoma skin cancer in the UK is at least 100,000cases a year, because this type of cancer tends to be under reported.
Yet, skin cancer is preventable through an understanding of the sun's dangers and simple and inexpensive sun protection methods.
The sun and you
The risk of developing skin cancer depends on your skin type. Most at risk are those with large numbers of moles, fair or freckled skin, and particularly those with light-colored eyes and fair or red hair. People with this skin type also tend to burn before they tan. People with dark skin that tans easily are less at risk. People with black, Asian and Mediterranean complexions are least at risk.
The sun and your children
A study by Cancer Research UK has revealed that over 250,000 children aged 11-17 are risking their health by seeking a tan from sunbeds. This is particularly worrying as children's skin is especially vulnerable. There is evidence to suggest that sunburn and/or intense sun exposure (like a two week beach holiday) in childhood can increase the risk of developing skin cancer, including malignant melanoma, in later life. Extra care should be taken to protect babies from the sun.
Protecting yourself and your family
Follow these guidelines for taking care in the sun:
Avoid the sun at its height (usually 11am-3pm)
Take care not to burn
Use shade wherever possible
Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection
Cover up with tightly woven, loose fitting clothes: long sleeves, trousers, skirts
Always use a broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF15 or higher) with UVA protection, even if you have a tan
Check your skin regularly and report any unusual changes without delay
Don't use sunbeds or tanning lamps
Ensure that you protect yourself when swimming, the glare off the water can cause you to burn more and you can still burn whilst underwater
Always re-apply sun cream after getting out of the water
Take extra special care of children's delicate skin
they should always wear protective clothing and a hat
Babies under six months should never be put in the sun
The truth about tanning and sun beds
Experts agree that sunbed usage increases the risk of developing malignant melanoma, the most dangerous and potentially fatal form of skin cancer.
A tan doesn't protect your skin from further damage or skin cancer.
Continued exposure actually increases the risk of skin cancer.
There is no such thing as a safe tan (unless it comes out of a bottle).
Sunbeds deliver concentrated doses of UVA that cause skin damage.
When your tan fades, the damage to your skin remains.
Skin damage doesn't just put you at risk of cancer but also causes premature aging.
Sun awareness in the workplace
Leading private medical insurance provider AXA PPP healthcare has a range of information for companies to help ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees. To help employees understand the effects of the sun on their health this summer, HR managers and other interested parties can visit AXA PPP healthcare's healthcare business resource center where they can download a sun awareness poster for display in the workplace.
*Source : Cancer Research UK
AXA PPP healthcare forms the healthcare arm of the AXA Global Group
one of the world's leading insurance and investment management companies, with major operations in Western Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific area.
AXA PPP healthcare offers a broad range of products and services to help employers manage the health and wellbeing of their employees. With 70 years of experience of providing access to private medical treatment, the company has around two million members worldwide.