Sun Exposure during Water Sports: Do Elite Athletes Adequately Protect Their Skin against Skin Cancer?
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Excessive sun exposure is the main avoidable cause of skin cancer. Outdoor sports performed without adequate photoprotection are risky practices in this respect. This study examines whether elite athletes in water sports (specifically surfing, windsurfing, and sailing) take appropriate measures to protect their skin from the sun, and whether there are differences in this respect according to age, gender, or sports discipline. This study is based on a questionnaire-based health survey. World
... h survey. World championship competitors completed a self-administered questionnaire on their sun protection and exposure habits, as well as sunburns during the last sports season. In total, 246 participants, with an age range of 16–30 years, completed the questionnaire. Of these, 49.6% used inadequate sun protection. Those who protected their skin appropriately tended to be older than those who did not (average age = 23.28 and 20.69 years, respectively; p = 0.000). There were no significant differences in sun protection habits between male and female athletes. The rate of sunburn was very high (76.7%). A high proportion (22.5%) of participants never used sunscreen. Elite athletes in water sports are at real risk of skin lesions from overexposure to the sun, associated with inadequate photoprotection practices. Campaigns to raise awareness and to promote the early detection of skin cancer should target these risk groups.