Our co-founder Johanna Young joins dermatologist Dr. Thivi Maruthappu in an interview with UK Radio to discuss melanoma in the UK and the importance of sun protective clothing.
How serious is melanoma in the UK and what contributes to it?
T: Melanoma is the fifth commonest cancer overall in the UK. It makes up about 4% of all the cancers that are diagnosed and what’s important about melanoma is that 85% is caused by exposure to too much ultraviolet radiation. And ultraviolet radiation predominantly comes from the sun, but it also includes tanning beds.
How can exposure to the sun increase our risk of skin cancer?
T: Tanning and repeated burning episodes can cause damage to cells in the skin, and later in life, this can progress and develop into different types of skin cancer, potentially this includes melanoma, but there are other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas which are increasing in rates in the UK, which makes sun protection a really important aspect of our skin protection.
What are the best ways to protect ourselves?
T: The guidance that we give in terms of protecting your skin from the sun is primarily by seeking shade between 10am and 3pm, so avoiding that peak sun exposure time. It also includes covering up, wearing a broad brim hat, sunglasses, and long sleeve clothing to protect your skin from exposure to the sun. And covering up with sun protection factor of a high factor, minimum of SPF 30, on sun-exposed sites that can’t be covered with clothing, for example, the face and neck. And when you apply sunscreen, it’s also important to use enough and reapply frequently, as well.
What sort of clothing should we choose to avoid exposure to the sun?
J: There are a number of elements that contribute to how sun protective a garment is, which include its fabric composition, its colour, and its fit. What most people don’t realise is not all clothing and not all fabrics protect the same from the sun, which is why my team and I started Solbari five years ago when we realised that a regular white cotton t-shirt does not provide very much protection from the sun’s UV rays and may only provide the equivalent to wearing SPF 5 sunscreen.
Can wearing regular clothing protect us? If not, what should we be looking for when buying sun protective clothing?
J: Solbari is an Australian brand that helps people protect their skin from skin cancer and melanoma. We’ve developed a range of products, which includes long sleeve polo shirts, long sleeve t-shirts, cardigans for women, swimwear, sun hats, and accessories for men and women, and also sunscreen. So, our hats, for example, offer great coverage and we’d encourage the British population, this summer, to favour broad brim hats, rather than caps, and long sleeve shirts, as much as possible, rather than t-shirts, and trousers rather than shorts, to protect their legs as much as possible. Our range offers a range of fabrics, which are lightweight, breathable, and comfortable to wear, and they’re all tested and rated with a high sun protection factor of UPF 50+. So, that will protect from UVA and UVB rays, and allow people to stay safe in the sun or in the outdoors all day long.
Where can listeners go to find out more information?
J: People can go directly to our website which is www.solbari.co.uk.
T: And if you’d like any more information on how to check your moles or how to check your skin, have a look at the British Skin Foundation website. There’s lots of really useful information there, including how to pick your sunscreen and how to apply it, as well.
This blog is for information purposes only, always consult with a medical professional for expert advice.
It is very difficult to the untrained eye to identify melanomas and skin cancers because they can come in many different shapes and sizes.
As Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon from the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc. says, "the earlier a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better the chance of avoiding surgery, or in the case of a serious melanoma or skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death."