Men, Melanoma and Sun Safety

Men, Melanoma and Sun Safety

Men are twice as likely to die from melanoma

67% of Australians who die from skin cancer are men. It’s a pretty stark statistic. In 2018 there were 965 male deaths, compared with 464 for women; so men are twice as likely to die from melanoma, from adolescence through to old age, according to the data.

While the numbers of deaths are still relatively small, The Cancer Council note that this is still higher than deaths through traffic accidents. Every year.

Men are more prone to all skin cancers

With non-melanoma skin cancers (such as basal cell carcinomas (“BCC’s”)), men are still more prone. Men account for 63% of the million non-melanoma skin cancer treatments registered through Medicare each year in Australia.

Indeed, 70% of men are diagnosed with any type of skin cancer by age 70, compared with 58% of women.

Is there a genetic difference that causes this?

Men are more thick-skinned - literally. This thicker skin has less fat beneath, according to analysis by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). A man’s skin also contains more collagen and elastin which give the skin firmness and keeps it tight. However, it is believed that these attributes makes men’s skin more likely to be damaged by UV rays. The AAD note a study from the Netherlands that found that men’s skin reacted more intensely to UV rays that women’s skin.

And boys will be boys.

The other issue comes down to behaviour. Wearing make up and cosmetics which increasingly contain active UPF ingredients is helping protect women from harmful UV rays. But when it comes to sun protection in general, men are less likely to use sun protection products. They are more likely to believe that if your skin is ‘tanned’ it will be self-protecting from harmful rays.

And men tend to ‘forget’ a lot more. When guys are enjoying a day at the cricket, for example, they may well forget to cover up or keep applying sun screen every two hours, after they've applied a few schooners. But the redness of faces, necks, arms after an hour or two in the sun, indicates that the DNA in the skin may have been damaged. This underlying damage can lead to cancers down the track, even though the redness has gone after a week or so.

Golfers, fishers and sailors are particularly prone

Any sport or pastime that involves a few hours in the sun on a regular basis is particularly dangerous. The reflection of the sun off the water or grass adds to the UV bombardment that the skin endures.

A classic example would be  Kenton, a golf professional who is featured in the Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign of the melanoma fund in the UK. He  noticed a small mole on his right forearm which turned out to be a melanoma. Fortunately this was caught early and the operation to remove it was successful. "I informed myself with the facts on how this cancer works, how aggressive it is, how common it is becoming, and how it can be mostly avoided by simply using sun protection and avoiding sunburn.  How I wished desperately I’d been more careful." adds Kenton.

Cancer Council NSW is so worried about golfers that they launched “Improve your Long game” six years ago to get golf clubs to raise awareness of the issue and provide sunscreens for all members.

Make the good habits fun

For children and teenagers in particular, research has shown that bad sunburns under the age of 18 are one of the biggest predictors of future skin cancers. It was this finding that prompted the Crazy Arms team to develop the UPF 50+ sun sleeves in fun colours and designs to get kids adopting good sun safe habits from an early age.

Crazy Arms are now available for boys, girls, women and men from age 3 upwards, providing protection to a particularly vulnerable part of the body, the arms, across a day’s sport or recreation.

References: Cancer Council NSW, American Academy of Dermatology, Melanoma Fund UK Ohio State University

#crazyarms #sunsmart #sunprotection #sunscreen #clothingisking #improveyourlonggame #slipslapswing #matesagainstmelanoma

Our blog articles are based on our own experience and research. For expert advice, please contact a medical professional. 

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