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Sun safety saves lives

Sun safety is important when you're going out for a bowl

How often have you gone for a roll up without any form of sun protection?

Skin damage can occur in less than 15 minutes. We all need that fix of Vitamin D, but there are ways to make your time on the green safer. 

The Bureau of Meteorology provides a daily UV Index, which is a simple measure of the UV radiation level, the scale starts at zero, and as it increases so does the chance of skin or eye damage occurring.

The Cancer Council says skin damage is possible when the UV index is above three. Australia consistently sits at a four or five, regardless of the time of the year. Both New South Wales and South Australia register at seven, which is high on the index scale over the year.

BOM says any UV level above 6 means your skin is in danger. In December the average UV index of New South Wales and South Australia 11.

During this time it’s common to see people out on the greens for hours without any form of sun protection. Repeated and prolonged exposure increases your risk of skin cancers whether you were burnt or not.

“You cannot see or feel UV, so you shouldn’t rely on the intensity of sunshine or the heat you feel on your skin to guide sun protection,” Cancer Council South Australia CEO, Mr Lincoln Size said.

“Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70,

“The disease claims over 2,000 Australian lives every year, yet it is largely preventable,” he said.

How to protect yourself

Cancer Council  Australia recommends the use of the five sun protection measures.

  • Slip on protective clothing.
  • Slop on a minimum SPF30+ broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen.
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat.
  • Seek shade where possible.
  • Slide on sunglasses.
  • Statistically the core demographic of this magazine (people aged 55+) are most at risk due to the cumulative exposure to UV radiation.

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Life saving check up

Sun damaged skin is something Shadex Industries manager, Dave Furneaux, unfortunately knows all to well.

While you may have seen his advertisements in this magazine, you will not have known he had his own cancer scare after a routine trip to skin clinic led to him to discover he had solar keratosis which although benign had the potential to become cancerous.

Dave had no idea it the solar keratosis was lingering under the skin and the news of it had caught him off guard as he spends a lot of his time in the office and rarely goes to the beach.

“What shocked me is that you think your bodies in good nick but you don’t see what’s below the surface and it was a bit of a wakeup call seeing all of the damage come to the surface,” Dave said.

“I don’t spend a lot of time outside so I didn’t think I’d be at risk at all, it really blew me away and it was a bit of a wake-up call.”

Luckily for Dave, his solar keratosis was able to remove through the use of photodynamic therapy but he urges people to be careful.

“The older you get the more at risk you are,” Dave said.

“If you are outside, you need to be protecting yourself with sunscreen or a hat and try to avoid times with high UV index ratings, if you’re not doing these things you’re really rolling the dice.”

Why is UV radiation so bad?

There are three types of UV radiation – UVA, UVB & UVC.

UVC radiation has more energy than the other two forms of UV but is not usually responsible for skin cancer as the majority is blocked by the ozone layer around the earth.

UVA is more abundant and has been linked to cancer, UVB is the most carcinogenic form of ultraviolet radiation.

When UVB hits the DNA strand, it causes a change in the structure of the chain by altering the chemical bond in between the building blocks of the DNA.

The altered bond causes the neighbouring parts of the DNA to stick to each other which bends the DNA strand from its normal shape, and cannot be read properly by the cell.

Every second a cell is exposed to the UVB in sunlight can cause the creation of up to 100 of these changes and if a cell accumulates too many, it can die or become cancerous.

Limiting your direct exposure to sunlight is important, as for every second you are out in the sun you it increases your chance of this occurring within your body.

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