ULTRAVIOLET levels from the sun were high enough in Donegal to cause skin damage on more than 80 per cent of days between April and September last year according to new figures from the Irish Cancer Society.
The charity have warned that during the survey period of 181 days last year, the UV index was more than 3 on 150 days in Donegal.
According to the Irish Cancer Society, UV rays cannot be seen or felt, while up to 90 per cent of UV rays can get through even light cloud. Ireland has the highest reported incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer in Europe, the society said as it launched its SunSmart campaign.
The number of diagnosed new cases of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in this country reached over 10,000 for the first time in 2011.
This marked an 81 per cent increase in incidence since records began in 1994. The largest increase in cases was found in young people who live in affluent urban settings who are exposed to repeated sunburn, probably from leisure activities.
“Most people think they don’t need to take care of their skin when in Ireland but the truth is very different. Even on cloud and cool days, from April to September, UV levels in Ireland can be high enough to damage skin and increase skin cancer risk,” said ICS cancer prevention officer, Rosemary Scott.
“Skin cancer can be prevented in nine out of ten cases by protecting the skin from over exposure to UV rays.”
They have urged people to follow the ‘SunSmart Code’.
Seek Shade: UV rays are at their strongest – generally between 11am and 3pm.
Cover up: Wear a shirt with a collar and long shorts. Also wear a hat that gives shade to your face, neck and ears.
Wear wraparound sunglasses: Check your sunglasses have UV protection.
Slop on the sunscreen: Use sunscreen with SPF 15 (SPF30 for children) or higher and UVA protection 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours – more often if swimming or perspiring.
Keep babies under six months out of the sun.
Check the UV index at www.cancer.ie/uvindex