‘Cover Up, Mate’ warning for Somerset outdoor workers

Somerset men who spend long periods of time outdoors are being urged to ‘Cover Up, Mate’ to protect themselves against the sun this summer.

NHS England South has today launched a ‘Cover Up, Mate’ campaign, supported by Somerset County Council, because of the rise in the number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer across the South West.

Farmers, builders, sportsmen and gardeners are all being targeted because of their prolonged exposure to the sun.

Latest statistics from Public Health England show that in Somerset the rate of malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body, is 44 per cent above the national average.

Cllr. Anna Groskop, Cabinet Member for health and wellbeing at Somerset County Council, said: “We are supporting the ‘Cover Up, Mate’ campaign because we have high rates of skin cancer compared to the rest of the country.

“The best advice is to get into good sun protection habits now, using a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen. You will protect your own health but also set a good example to children and young people around you for the future.”

NHS England South West Medical Director Dr. Caroline Gamlin, said: “Men in particular need to take much more care with skin cancer. They need to use at least a factor 15 sunscreen and apply it generously on all exposed skin – not forgetting their necks, ears and bald patches.

“Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer which can develop slowly over time. So while sunburn might feel better in a few days, it may have done long term damage which could be fatal.”

National Farmers Union South West Regional Board Chairman, James Small, said: “Working in the rough, tough world of farming, we often want to brush things off and just get on with the job, but there are times when that kind of resilience can come back and bite you and this is one of those.

“We owe it to ourselves and our families to take the risk of skin cancer seriously and above all if we are bothered by something to not dismiss it, but get it checked out.”

Top sun safe tips include:
• Use at least factor 15 sunscreen in the sun and use plenty of it
• Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin – don’t forget your neck and ears and your head if you have thinning or no hair
• Wear sunglasses and a hat
• Take particular care if you have fair skin, moles or freckles, red or fair hair, or light-coloured eyes.

For information on sun safety follow #CoverUpMate

You can also visit NHS Choices advice on sun safety for everyone at http://www.nhs.uk or read Somerset County Council’s top tips to protect yourself in the sun that can be found at: http://www.somerset.gov.uk/skincancer

ENDS

For further information, please contact the Somerset County Council Press Office on 01823 355020 or email pressoffice@somerset.gov.uk

Editor’s notes:

The campaign will include social media activity using #CoverUpMate.

Here is Public Health England data on incidence and mortality of malignant melanoma in the South West:

South West deaths from malignant melanoma:

2009 1,444 248
2014 1,906 284
Total rise 462 36
% rise 31.9 14.5

All age incidence of malignant melanoma (direct age standardisation) per 100,000 population, by local authority, 2010-12 (–ve figure denotes it is below England average):

Area Name % above national average
Bath and North East Somerset 37.94
Bristol 6.90
North Somerset 40.07
South Gloucestershire 27.61
Plymouth 54.09
Torbay 74.19
Bournemouth 16.63
Poole 21.61
Swindon -8.39
Cornwall 40.29
Wiltshire 27.47
Devon 58.88
Dorset 54.04
Gloucestershire 11.89
Somerset 44.40
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