Nobody would deny that keeping fit and healthy is the way to live these days. Outdoor sport and outdoor fitness training however need precautions in Queensland, the skin cancer capital of the world and probably the outdoor exercise capital of the world.
Ultraviolet radiation is estimated to be one of the most important risk factors for non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers and athletes practicing outdoor sports receive considerable UV doses because of training and competition schedules with high sun exposure.
Large epidemiological studies showed that recreational activities such as sun exposure on the beach or during water sports were associated with an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma, whereas skiing has been shown to be at increased risk for squamous cell carcinoma. Risk factors of cutaneous melanoma have also been found to be more frequent in subjects practicing endurance outdoor sports.
Other studies have also found that the beach is no longer Australia’s biggest skin cancer danger.
According to research released by Cancer Council Australia, Australians are at the same risk of being sunburnt at sporting venues as they are at the beach.
The most recent National Sun Protection Survey showed that sporting venues are clearly linked with sun damage with 22% of Australians at sports grounds and centres getting sunburnt, which is just as high as the percentage of Australians at the beach, local lake or river who got sunburnt (22%). Other places where risk of sunburn was high included at public parks and gardens (12% of park visitors sunburnt), backyard pools (11% sunburnt) and at home or a friend’s place (10% sunburnt).
So how should sports enthusiasts protect themselves from the dangers of sun exposure? Here are some sun protection measures recommended by the Cancer Council Australia.
1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
2. Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
3. Slap on a hat — broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
4. Seek shade.
5. Slide on some sunglasses — make sure they meet Australian standards.