Sportspeople receive substantially higher UV exposure, and routinely exceed the recommended exposure limits, increasing their risk of sun damage and skin cancer. Factors such as sweating, water contact, minimal clothing, and lack of shade, make it even more relevant, however, only 50% currently sun protect when exercising outdoors (Cancer Research UK, 2020).
Since the early 1990s, rates of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) have risen in the UK by 170%, with over 156,000 cases reported a year (Cancer Research UK website). This equates to a staggering 430 people a day receiving a diagnosis that could have been mainly prevented with adequate sun protection.
Sunguarding Sport is a free resource that provides a systematic approach to educate and raise awareness of sun protection to all in sport and outdoor recreation. It provides guidelines, sport specific advice (created in partnership with each governing body) and a toolkit of downloadable materials, designed to be shared to participants, spectators, and officials, by organisations, groups and clubs.
We will be sharing the resource with our affiliated members, urging them to share this on, helping create better habits to impact health and wellness for all.
Written by experts
The guidelines have been approved by Professor Brian Diffey and Dr Elizabeth Blakeway Manning, and feature topics such as which sunscreen to use, type of clothing, tips on application and shade, how to avoid or deal with heatstroke, sunburn, heat exhaustion, dehydration and much more.
The campaign’s top five tips include:
- UV radiation cannot be seen or felt, so check the UV Index daily, and use sun protection when it reads 3 or over.
- A short training session can last for hours, so get into the habit of being sun prepared before you start any outdoor activity.
- Sunscreen can wear, wash, rub or sweat off, so reapply every two hours or more often when around water.
- To avoid a greasy grip, use a sunscreen applicator or clean palms with a small towel and alcohol gel.
- When removing clothing on a warm day, remember to apply sunscreen to all newly exposed areas of skin.
A team of Sunguard ambassadors has been elected from all areas of the sports industry, each working on a voluntary basis to highlight the importance of the campaign’s messages, within their own sport, and across the board.
Lisa Wainwright MBE, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, who was one of the first Sunguards on board, says:“We are incredibly proud to support such an important initiative and I look forward to raising awareness on this crucial topic. The place that sport has in society has never been more important than at this moment in time, not just for physical health, but mental, social and community wellbeing, and so it is vital that everyone feels like they can participate, work, or spectate in the sector safely.”
Michelle Baker, CEO of the Melanoma Fund, added: “With the spotlight on health and welfare, Sunguarding Sport has certainly hit the right note, evidenced by the incredible pre-launch support we have received. Our aim is to get ALL sports and outdoor recreational organisations involved, to help improve sun protection habits and impact skin cancer, because if not, why not?”
For further details visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk