July 13, 2024

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UV Rays Threaten Golfers’ Health: Sun Protection Strategies You Need to Know

UV Rays Threaten Golfers’ Health: Sun Protection Strategies You Need to Know

UV Rays Threaten Golfers’ Health: Sun Protection Strategies You Need to Know

Skin Cancer, Cataracts, Immune System Weakening…the Threat of UV Rays Looming Over Golfers! It’s Dangerous to Be Indifferent to Sunburns.

The importance of sun protection is a constant drumbeat these days, but for some, it might feel like a message for the younger generation or those who spend more time outdoors than swinging clubs on a manicured course.

However, a recent study published in the prestigious medical journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine paints a concerning picture for golfers.

The research, conducted by an Australian team, found that golfers who play at least once a month have a significantly increased risk of developing skin cancer – a staggering one in four players will develop the disease [1].

This statistic is a wake-up call, urging golfers to take sun protection seriously.

Fore! UV Rays Threaten Golfers' Health: Sun Protection Strategies You Need to Know

The Damaging Power of UV Rays

The culprit behind this heightened risk is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. There are three main types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s dermis, contributing to premature aging and wrinkles. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburns and are linked to the development of skin cancer. Thankfully, the atmosphere absorbs most UVC radiation, preventing it from reaching the Earth’s surface.

While a healthy dose of sunlight provides essential vitamin D, excessive exposure to UV rays can wreak havoc on our health. Here’s a closer look at the specific threats golfers face:

  • Skin Cancer: As the Australian study highlights, golfers are particularly susceptible to skin cancer due to the prolonged periods spent outdoors, often during peak UV hours. The head, neck, ears, arms, and legs are most exposed during a round, making them prime targets for UV damage. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and early detection is crucial for successful treatment [2].

  • Cataracts: The eyes are also vulnerable to UV radiation. Over time, excessive exposure can lead to cataracts, a clouding of the lens that impairs vision. Cataract surgery is a common procedure, but prevention is always preferable.

  • Immune System Suppression: UV rays can weaken the body’s immune system, making it more susceptible to infections and hindering its ability to fight off developing cancers [3].

Sun Protection Strategies for Golfers

The good news is that golfers can significantly reduce their risk of UV-related health problems by adopting a few simple sun protection strategies:

  • Sunscreen: This is the first line of defense. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply every two hours, or more frequently if sweating or swimming. Don’t forget areas like the ears, neck, lips, and the tops of the feet.

  • Sun-protective Clothing: Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats offer valuable protection. Look for clothing with a Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating, which indicates how effectively the fabric shields your skin from UV rays.

  • Seek Shade: Schedule tee times for earlier or later in the day when the sun’s intensity is lower. Utilize shade strategically throughout the course – trees, umbrellas, and even strategically placed benches can provide welcome respites.

  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays. Look for a label that specifies UV protection up to 400 nanometers (nm).

  • Hydration: Staying hydrated helps your body function optimally and deal with the heat. Carry a water bottle and sip frequently throughout your round.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Sun Protection

Some golfers might feel that years of unprotected sun exposure have already taken their toll. However, it’s important to remember that sun protection is beneficial at any age. By adopting these strategies now, golfers can significantly reduce their future risk of skin cancer and other UV-related health problems. A dermatologist can also perform a skin cancer screening to identify any suspicious moles or lesions early on.

In conclusion, while golf is a fantastic outdoor activity, golfers should be aware of the significant risks associated with UV exposure. By incorporating sun protection measures into their routine, golfers can enjoy the game safely and ensure they stay healthy for many rounds to come. Remember, sun protection is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of intelligence and a commitment to your long-term health.

UV Rays Threaten Golfers’ Health: Sun Protection Strategies You Need to Know


[1] BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, “Skin cancer in golfers: a cross-sectional study,” Published July 20, 2023, doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2023-001597 [Link to the abstract on BMJ website]

[2] American Cancer Society, “Skin Cancer Facts & Figures 2024,”

(source:internet, reference only)

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