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Danger lurks in the sun

SO, you’ve been hiding that white belly of your’s under a business suit for the last six months.

Now its time for some fun but beware dangers lurk when it comes to fun in the sun.

Skin cancer – two little words that are enough to make your skin crawl (pardon the pun).

We are all know the sun causes skin cancer and we should slip, slop, slap but many of us still don’t. Now is the danger season.

According to the Cancer Foundation 89 per cent of Australian men know the importance of protecting their skin, yet over half still fail to wear a hat in the sun, and an astounding 42 per cent of guys still believe that a tanned person looks healthier.

The ladies aren’t any better with 96 per cent knowing how dangerous the sun can be, over half not wearing a hat and 17 per cent actually going out of their way to get a tan (hello! Buy it in a bottle, it’ll be cheaper than a facelift in 10 years time).

And while many of us put sunscreen on when we’re out in the sun, according to the Cancer Foundations WA chief executive officer Mike Daube, it’s just not adequate.

“Applying a bit of sunscreen is not enough on its own to protect your skin from UV radiation,” Mr Daube said.

“As well as sunscreen people need to cover up, seek shade where possible and stay out of the sun during the middle of the day.”

According to the latest research many of us actually believe that sunscreen alone will protect us, and that’s simply not true.

To make matters worse, people who use sunscreen as their only form of protection are more likely to spend an extended amount of time in the sun.

“If you prolong the time you spend in the sun without proper protection,” Mr Daube said, “you may increase your risk of contracting melanoma.”

“Skin cancer is a serious disease and can be fatal – and yet it is so simple to prevent it.”

The fatality rate involved in skin cancer is a lot higher than most people would imagine – being the fifth most common cause of cancer in Australia.

And unfortunately the news for WA men is worse than it is for WA women.

In 1990, 30 men and 32 women in WA died from skin cancer. In 1998, 55 men and only 31 women passed away from the affliction.

In short the mortality rate from melanoma for men in WA has gone from being almost the same as for women at the beginning of the ’90s to almost doubling by the end of the decade.

According to the Cancer Foundation the higher rate of melanoma deaths among men is most likely due to late detection and late presentation for treatment.

Women also have a higher survival rate after being diagnosed – and the boys are 50 per cent more likely to develop a secondary melanoma than girls.

But, on the up side, Australian survival rates are among the higher in the world, due to our awareness of the signs of skin cancer. But then again we also have one of the highest rates in the world when it comes to getting skin cancer in the first place.

So while you remember the sunscreen, don’t think it makes you Superman –think of the sun as kriptonite and consider a hat and a shirt your only form of protection.

Try to take advantage of any protection you can get while outdoors, for example golfers might consider hiring a roofed buggy to keep out of the sun between holes.

Some golf courses do actually offer discounts on roofed buggies – for example Hill View Public Golf Course and Tavern gives patrons over 50 per cent off buggy hire on hot days after 3pm (from $60 to $25).

Hill View managing director Bill Treasure, says his pro-shop also stocks an array of hats, visors, umbrellas and sunscreens in the hope patrons will take the opportunity to protect themselves.

“We’ve also planted 10,000 trees since we took over (12 years ago), so alongside and in between the fairways there are big shady trees for protection,” he said.

Hill View donates 5 per cent of every green fee to the Activ Foundation, which supports children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

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