09 May 2023

Be Sun-Smart while Running — May is Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month


Be Sun-Smart while Running — May is Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month

Be Sun-Smart while Running — May is Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month

Running can be a great way to stay fit and healthy but can also put you at higher risk of melanoma and other skin cancers due to the sun exposure that occurs running outdoors.

Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month aims to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancers and the most severe form of skin cancer, melanoma because it tends to spread. Its message promotes the importance of early detection, prevention, and treatment.

Though the exact cause of all melanomas is not clear, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun exposure does increase your risk of developing melanoma. Let's explore what melanoma is and how melanoma can affect runners, discuss sun protection strategies, and learn tips for safer outdoor running.

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. While it's less common than other forms of skin cancer, melanoma is aggressive and can be deadly if not caught early. It is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths. Increasing awareness and sun-smart habits are crucial in preventing melanoma and other skin cancers. Runners can learn simple practices to help protect themselves and still enjoy their outdoor workouts.

Exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Rays

Runners often spend hours outside, exposing themselves to the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. These rays can cause skin damage, including the development of melanoma. Some factors that can increase a runner's risk of melanoma include:

• Spending long hours outside and when the sun is at its peak

• Running at high altitudes where the sun's UV rays are strongest

• Having a fair complexion which is more susceptible to UV damage

• A history of sunburns, especially severe ones during childhood or adolescence

• A family history of melanoma

Sun Protection for Runners — Guarding Against Melanoma

Protecting your skin while enjoying outdoor activities, including running, is essential to preventing melanoma and other skin cancers. Consider the following sun protection tips starting with your next run:

• Wear Sunscreen — Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and apply it 15-30 minutes before heading outside. Remember to reapply it every 2 hours or immediately after sweating or swimming.

• Dress for Sun Protection — Opt for clothing made from UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) fabrics which can help shield your skin from harmful sun rays. Also, wear a hat and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your head and eyes.

• Seek Shade — Try to plan your running route to include shaded areas or run in the early morning or late afternoon when sun rays are less intense.

• Check the UV Index — Before heading out for a run, check the UV Index to determine the strength of the sun's rays in your area and adjust your sun protection measures accordingly, including the time you run.

Melanoma Awareness — Be Proactive

In addition to protecting your skin while running, being proactive in detecting and treating melanoma is vital. Regular skin checks at home or by a dermatologist can help identify early warning signs of melanoma, such as new or changing moles or growths. Without hesitating, schedule a skin check if you notice anything suspicious.


"Melanoma sun screen running"