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Golf is a game that doesn’t discriminate. Played across generations, abilities, and all walks of life, it presents the perfect blend of exercise, sociability, and the great outdoors.
Think again. Before you gear up to tee off, you may want to check out the latest research from the University of South Australia, which shows that golfers have a higher risk of skin cancer when compared to the general population.
Conducted with global partners, the study shows that one in four golfers had received a skin cancer diagnosis, indicating 2.4 times greater risk of the disease.
The study is the first to explore the prevalence of skin cancers among an Australian golfing population.
Lead researcher, Dr Brad Stenner says the findings highlight the importance of being sun smart on the green.
“Playing golf regularly has a range of excellent health benefits – from helping you stay fit and active, to keeping you in touch with friends,” says Stenner.
“For example, if you walk an average golf course, you’re walking at least five to seven kilometres every game, often more. Add a bag of golf clubs and maybe two to three rounds a week, and you can see just how good golf is for your endurance, muscle tone and wellbeing.
“While there are clear health benefits of engaging in golf, this study explored the risks of playing golf as golfers tend to play for four or more hours in the sun, using various sun protection strategies.
“We found that that 27 percent of golfers – or one in four – had been diagnosed with skin cancer, as compared with 7 percent of the general population.
“So, while sun smart campaigns do exist and are promoted in Australia (especially in summer), it seems they may be missing the mark when it comes to golfers.”
Skin cancer accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year. Every year, skin cancers account for around 80 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers in Australia.
One in every three diagnosed cancers are skin related, with between two and three million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occurring globally each year.
“This study confirms that golfers have an elevated risk of skin cancer. Knowing that, players should more actively strive to protect themselves,” adds Stenner.
“My advice is: before you go out and play golf make sure you put on some high SPF protective sunscreen, wear a broad-brimmed hat and some sort of sleeve or arm protection to ensure you’ve got the maximum coverage, and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen as you go. Once you have that you’re all set to tee off.”