Farmers encouraged to be ‘SunSmart’

The IFA has teamed up with the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) to encourage farmers to be ‘SunSmart’ in reducing their risk of skin cancer this summer.

IFA Farm Family & Social Affairs Chair person, Alice Doyle, said farmers are exposed to up to three times more UV radiation from the sun compared with people who work indoors, putting them at a higher risk of skin cancer.

“To reduce the risk of skin damage, farmers should organise their day so that you are in the shade when UV rays are strongest from 11 am to 3 pm,” she said.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland, with over 13,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Nine out of every 10 cases are caused by UV rays from the sun or sunbeds.

Dr Triona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE’s NCCP, said that working outdoors is an everyday part of farming life but it is important to take simple steps to protect skin from the sun to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

“Don’t just wait for hot and sunny days to use sun protection – UV from the sun is damaging, even on cool, cloudy days. It is important to protect skin from April to September as you cannot see or feel the UV rays which cause damage to the skin,” she said.

The SunSmart ‘5 S’ campaign encourages people to protect their skin from the sun by: Slipping on clothing that covers your skin such as long sleeves, collared t-shirts; Slopping on sunscreen on exposed areas, using factor 30+ for adults and apply 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply regularly – more often if sweating; Slapping on a wide-brimmed hat, hard hats and helmets can have attachable brims and neck flaps; Seeking shade especially if outdoors between 11 am and 3 pm; Sliding on sunglasses to protect your eyes.

More information on the SunSmart campaign is available on