Sun protection highlighted as key to combatting ‘occupational cancer’ for Europeans

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sun protection highlighted as key to combatting ‘occupational cancer’ for Europeans

Related tags: Ultraviolet, European union

A new report has highlighted the importance of sunscreen and better protection for millions of European workers who spend the majority of their time exposed to the sun, calling on the EU Commission to recognise non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) as an occupational disease.

According to the report, published by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV)​, there are almost 14.5 million workers in Europe who spend at least 75% of their working time under the sun, and are at an increased risk of developing NMSC.

Data in the report show that after only five years of outdoor work, the risk of developing NMSC is at least twofold for outdoor workers compared to indoor workers.

Furthermore, the data also shows that health literacy and proneness to prevention are significantly lower for outdoor workers.

"For the sake of outdoor workers with skin cancer by the sun EADV had to stand tall, providing the overwhelming scientific evidence for the invisible occupational risk of solar UV,”​ says Dr Swen Malte John, one of the editors of the report, Chair of the Media & PR Committee of the EADV and Chair of the EU Horizon2020 COST Action Standerm.

“Far too many of our patients diseased with work related skin cancers ask us 'why has nobody told me before? I would then have protected myself!' This has to change! Prevention is simple and cheap, and skin cancer is one of the few cancers entirely curable if detected early.”

Calling on Commission

The report, which Dr Malte put together with a number of other experts, provides an overview and new research on the current European status quo regarding epidemiology, risk assessment and UVR exposure measurement, legal management and health care services provided to affected workers.

In a consensus report found in the same publication, the experts call European member states to recognise NMSC as an occupational disease and the EU Commission to revise the 2006 Directive on Artificial Optical Radiation (2006/25/EC) to include solar UV radiation within its scope.

This Directive currently only defines limits for exposure of workers to artificial optical radiation to the eyes and skin and completely excludes exposure of workers to sunlight.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Skin Care

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