We golfers love to wear baseball caps for reasons of style and perceived protection against the sun. The younger tour golfers of course look great in caps but we should remind ourselves that their behavior is partially driven by the millions they make in endorsements including sponsor branding on headwear. But as we age the effects of the sun have a cumulative toll, making us mature guys and gals more susceptible to damaged skin, skin cancer and its more deadly form melanoma.
The numbers are jarring. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation more Americans are diagnosed for skin cancer each year than ALL OTHER CANCERS COMBINED. By age 70, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer. Actinic keratosis which is the most common form of pre-cancer affects some 58 million Americans. Seven out of eight cases of skin cancer including melanoma are a direct result of ultraviolet rays from the sun. Indeed the research linking sun damage to skin cancer shows a greater casual relationship than even smoking to lung cancer.
Skin damage is cumulative over one’s life span which is a primary reason why the majority who do develop melanoma are white men over age fifty five. And men perhaps because they tend to spend more time outdoors are typically more lackadaisical about protecting their skin are three times more likely to die from melanoma than women by the time they reach their eighties.
If you are sixty and over and wear a baseball cap during four or five hour rounds of golf, you may want to consider a change for two reasons. First, the majority of baseball caps are not made with fabric that protects against the sun’s UV rays and secondly they do not protect prominent areas such as the neck, ears, nose, cheeks and chin that can be particularly susceptible to skin cancers.
Invest in wide-brimmed sun protection
Given the increasing risk of sun cancer, golfers sixty and over should consider a hat that offers UV protection and a wide brim of 3 inches or more that keeps it shape. It should be a secure fit or include a chin strap so it doesn’t easily fall off while putting or ball striking. Wide brim hats are particularly important from March to October during prime sun time of 10 am — 4 pm, even during a cloudy day which still receives 80% of the ultraviolet light of a sunny day.
A wide brim hat with UV protection is one very important adaption for mature golfers to reduce the chances of skin cancer. Unprotected areas should be covered by sun screen every two hours with a sun protection factor (i.e. SPF) of at least 50 and sleeve extenders are also helpful.
Unfortunately, I have had first hand experience with facial skin cancer and the treatment is not a day at the beach (pun intended!). The good news is that you can reduce the odds with a few simple changes noted above. My company Fore!Sixty is committed to promoting wide brim hats and sleeve extenders and doing what ever we can to build awareness among what we believe is a must susceptible group … the ten million US golfers sixty and over.
Jim Plumb is the co-founder Fore!Sixty. He has lived his whole life in Southern California and makes his home in beautiful Coronado just across the bridge from San Diego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org