Don’t Get Red on the Green: Skin Cancer Prevention for Golfers

 Image“When I was a kid, you weren’t even considered a real man unless you lost your nose 3 or 4 times a summer” said PGA Tour star Tom Kite according to an article in The Seattle Times.

That was then and this is now. After bouts with skin cancer, Tom Kite won’t step onto a golf course without his signature wide brimmed hat and sunscreen.  He is not alone as other professional golfers have suffered from skin cancer including Fred “Butch” Baird, Andy North, JC Snead, Bob Murphy, Rory Sabbatini, and Brian Davis

“Sunscreen is a part of my equipment, my routine, and who I am and what I do.”  Brain Davis explains on the Skin Cancer Foundation website.  Mr. Davis has suffered from skin cancer six times and is now an ambassador for the Skin Care Foundation in educating the general public and golfers on risks of skin cancer. 

In the Spirit of this week’s Arnold Palmer tournament, spectators and golfers alike need to be aware of correlation between golf and skin cancer.  Did you know that over one years time a professional golfer receives 200 times more UV radiation increasing their risk of sunburns?  Recreational golfers receive 3-5 times more radiation exposure each hour increasing their risk.

The PGA has taken an active role to educate its members and its fans on the risk of skin cancer and exposure to the sun.  In 2012 the PGA tour debuted a skin cancer awareness video at the Skin Care Foundation Gala.

While on a golf course, your skin is exposed from every angle.  Not only is the sun beating down on you, but also around you.  The sun is reflected off the ponds and sand traps, increasing your UV radiation exposure.  Squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and basal cell carcinomas (BCC) are the most common skin cancers.  They are due to exposure to UV radiation, which is emitted by the sun.  The more sun exposure a person has the higher risk they are to develop a SCC or BCC.  The face, ears, scalp, arms, and hands are common locations for a SCC or BCC to occur.

All is not lost and it isn’t time just yet to cancel that country club membership.  Here are some tips you can do to protect yourself from the sun while playing a round of golf or following your favorite player around the Bay Hill Invitational this week.

– Wear an SPF of 30 or higher, applied 20-30 minutes prior to tee time

– Reapply your SPF every 2 hours or 9 holes

– Apply sunscreen on your scalp, ears, and lips

– Wear a hat with a 3-inch rim all around

– Avoid teeing off between 10am – 4pm while the sun’s rays are its strongest

– Wear close fitting, UV blocking sunglasses

– Carry an umbrella to provide extra UV protection– we recommend Coolibar UPF 50 umbrellas

– Wear clothing with UPF protection

Article By: Gina Mangin, MPAS, PA-C

References: Skin Cancer Foundation. Sun and Skin News. Summer 2011 ( Vol 28, No.2)

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