Today, melanoma is one of the most rapidly increasing forms of cancer in the world.
The incidence in the UK alone has risen by 143% in the past 18 years. Moreover, there is a comparable increase throughout the world, yet still, there is still far too little that we know about the disease. In the 1930s melanoma affected 1 in 1,500: now it affects 1 in 50!
Everybody reading this will know of someone who has been in contact with melanoma, and will understand the need to find a cure. Not only that but we also need to make sure we are aware of this terrible disease and protect our little ones from it too. Now, with summer approaching so fast, children will be spending more time outdoors. Naturally, they will be exposed to much more sun rays.
Why is it important?
A recent survey suggests that London 2012 inspired more children to get outdoors and play sports. Although this is a positive and we want to our children to exercise as much as possible, outdoor sports subjects young skin to ‘prolonged sun exposure’ which can result in sunburn, even on a cloudy day. I am sure you’ve experienced it yourself a number of times when you got back home from a game of football with a burnt neck and face. What we don’t realise is what terrible and even fatal effects this might have on our health. So next time you are heading out, please think about it and do not moan when putting the sunscreen on your skin.
Figures from Cancer Research UK show that the incidence of melanoma in the UK is now five times higher than it was in the 1970s. It is more than 13,000 people develop melanoma each year, compared with around 1,800 in the mid-1970s. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs during childhood. Moreover, just one blistering sunburn can double the risk of getting melanoma later in life. That is why we are seeking advice from Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund on how we can battle this dangerous disease and protect our skin.
Protect Your Skin
Individuals of all ages should avoid sunburn. There is increasing evidence that excessive sun exposure and particularly sunburn when aged under 15 is a major risk factor for skin cancer in later life. Protection of the skin of children and adolescents is therefore particularly important!
It is important to realise the cumulative nature of sun-induced skin damage. This is of particular relevance to individuals now living in the UK who may have spent part of their lives in a tropical or sub-tropical environment.
Sun exposure giving rise to sunburn and subsequent skin damage, can take place in the UK. It is, therefore, essential to protect the skin of both adults and children in this country. It is especially important during periods of sunny weather in spring and early summer. People who develop skin cancer do not always have a history of deliberate sunbathing. Those who have an outdoor occupation and those who have an outdoor recreation, such as golfing, gardening, skiing or sailing, are also at risk and must learn to protect their skin at all times.
People who develop skin cancer do not always have a history of deliberate sunbathing. Those who have an outdoor occupation and those who have an outdoor recreation, such as golfing, gardening, skiing or sailing, are also at risk and must learn to protect their skin at all times.
4 point approach to minimising sun-induced skin damage
Take a note of these 4 points to avoid skin damage. They are shown in descending order of importance:
- Avoiding noonday sun (between 11am and 3pm).
- Seeking natural shade in the form of trees or other shelter.
- The use of UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing as a sunscreen including T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and hats.
- The use of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect against UVB and with additional UVA protection.
There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. A tan is a sign that already damaged skin is trying to protect itself from further damage. The protecting power of a tan is weaker than that of a mild sunscreen of SPF2-4. That in at least 4 out of 5 cases, skin cancer is a preventable disease.
Want to learn more?
If you would like to learn more about protecting your and your loved ones’ skin and spread the word, please visit www.oksunsafetycode.com. It is is a FREE online resource bank. It was developed by a leading skin cancer specialists alongside experts in physical education and safeguarding.
There are over 120 national governing bodies, clubs and associations who work with children in a whole range of outdoor activities. The initiative also boasts a wide range of sporting ambassadors from football, cricket and athletics.The Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code partnered with the Association for Physical Education (AfPE), sports coach UK, Child Protection in Sport (NSPCC) and the Youth Sports Trust.
Thanks to the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund, all children who take part in organised outdoor activity stand a better chance of escaping the harmful effects of sunburn. Groups or individuals just need to log on, follow some simple guidelines and then print out their policy to achieve their official Accreditation Mark. This verifies that specific measures have been met and that they actively sun protect kids in their care. A downloadable toolkit provides promotional materials. The toolkit helps to keep guidelines ‘front of mind’ and ensures that all good practice is supported by parents.
Spread the Word!
The charity is very pro-active and urges everyone who works with children to educate them on the dangers and actively protect them from sunburn. If you have children or are a teacher, why not get involved and in turn inform others about the initiative? Blog about it, promote what you are doing to your media contacts and on social media. Share our posts on Twitter and Facebook using #outdoorkids and #oksunsafe to help us monitor awareness. Our aim is to help children develop good habits from an early age and together, Blow the Whistle on Sunburn!
You can also support Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund with just a few clicks! All you have to do is register on GoRaise and select the charity as your supported cause. That’s it! Now every time you shop online, a percentage of your purchases will go to to the charity, with no additional cost to you.
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