A light-hearted campaign highlighting how men working or enjoying sports outdoors achieve a ‘Man Tan’ is hoping to raise awareness of being ‘SunSmart’ and reduce the risk of skin cancer, which kills more men than women in Ireland every year.
The campaign by Breakthrough Cancer Research, in association with Healthy Ireland’s SunSmart initiative, is appealing to male golfers, cyclists, runners, watersports enthusiasts, GAA, soccer, and rugby players, farmers, and construction and other outdoor workers to take extra precautions against the sun to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in men and Ireland has one of the highest mortality rates for skin cancer in Europe.
Individuals who regularly spend time outdoors are at extra risk, with outdoor workers accounting for almost 25% of those diagnosed with skin cancer.
As part of the campaign, Breakthrough Cancer Research has launched a series of short videos showing how men achieve a patchy ‘Man Tan’ when golfing, cycling, surfing, or driving a van.
Time to retire the Man Tan! Patch tanning shows where your skin has been put at risk, so it’s never a good look. The only safe tan is a fake tan.— Breakthrough Cancer Research (@BreakthroCancer) August 3, 2020
Don’t skip a bit where you apply your sunscreen. https://t.co/LjWG5jaOgx#makemoresurviors Let's get to #100percenttogether #SunSmart pic.twitter.com/8dqaYg9YEC
The charity urges men to use protection with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more when the UV index is three or above, even when it’s cloudy, and to ensure 100% coverage to avoid patchy burning or tanning.
Orla Dolan, chief executive at Breakthrough Cancer Research, said it is time that at-risk groups get more serious about skin cancer prevention. “Regular exposure to the sun’s invisible UV rays puts outdoor athletes and workers at a high risk of developing skin cancer," she said.
"We have seen some very nasty cases of basal cell carcinomas and melanoma in areas that are exposed to the sun regularly, like the neck, ears, and lower legs, especially in men. In fact, almost one in four skin cancer deaths are from outdoor workers alone in Ireland."
For medical student Conor Stapleton, who was diagnosed with stage-three skin cancer last year after discovering a mole on his back, applying sunscreen has become a part of his daily ritual.
The 23-year-old, from Vicarstown, Co Laois, had surgery to remove the mole, as well as lymph nodes last year, and is currently undergoing immunotherapy.
While the GAA player, who has stopped playing for his local club, Annanough, for the moment, is “feeling great” and will be glad to return to college in the autumn, he warned that being SunSmart is as essential as brushing your teeth.
“Like every morning when you brush your teeth, you should put on your sunscreen and reapply regularly during the summer months,” said Conor.
“Even on a cloudy day in Ireland the UV index can be very high and you have that risk of being burned and that developing into melanoma or other forms of cancer. And speaking from experience it’s not a cancer you want to get."