5 Things Anglers Can Do To Avoid Dying From Skin Cancer [VIDEO]
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said the following…
“Darn it, I got a sunburn out there today… I wish I had put a shirt on earlier or that I had applied more sunscreen…”
I sure remember saying something along those lines a many times as a hard-headed teenager… and even some as an adult too…
But nothing compares to my memory of the day a nurse told me I had skin cancer… and not just any skin cancer…
The skin cancer that kills almost 10,000 people every year…
The News I’ll Never Forget…
I was working in Atlanta on the second floor of a three-story office building the day I received the news that I had malignant melanoma.
I can still remember every detail about that dreadful afternoon like it was yesterday…
But before I share how I survived a very serious bout with melanoma, let me tell you about the guardian angel on the airplane that most likely saved my life…
I was flying back home to Atlanta and had struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me on the plane.
I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but after chatting for some time I noticed that he was glancing down at my right arm.
He casually mentioned that he was not a doctor but that I should get the mole on my arm checked out…
It did look a shade darker than I remembered it… in fact, I would almost describe the mole as an “inflamed dark red” color…
So the following week, I walked upstairs to the dermatologist (the 3rd floor of the office building that I worked in had a dermatologist office) to see if they could fit me in that week since I worked right downstairs from them.
They got me the next day, they took a biopsy of the mole the guy on the plane had pointed out, and said that they should have some results back in 7 days.
Quite honestly, I forgot about the whole thing as I went right back to work, life, and living the fun single life that I was living at the time…
But then the biggest disruption of my life happened.
I knew something was wrong the second I saw the nurse at the door of my office.
They call you with good news, they want to see face to face when they deliver bad news…
And then she hit me with it…
“Joe, the biopsy results came back and I’m sorry to tell you that I don’t have good news… you have malignant melanoma… it’s going to require some serious surgery to see how far it has spread… and if it has spread past your arm then chemo will be required next…”
All of the years of being out in the sun fishing and playing had caught up to me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks all in that one moment that I will never forget as long as I live…
Side note: I never got the man’s name on the plane that told me that I should go see a dermatologist. But he was certainly my guardian angel, and his comment probably saved my life.
Meet Joe, The Tan, Sun-Worshiping Irish Boy
It could never happen to me…
That’s what we all say when we are out on the sun.
How do I know? Because I said it time and time again when I heard about other people getting skin cancer.
It could never happen to me… or so I thought…
Before I tell you my quick story, I want to address what some of you men (and women) might be thinking regarding my pictures from the past.
I can imagine some of you see these older pictures of me and say, “He looks a bit tougher, tanner, and better looking in the Before Skin Cancer pictures than he does today…”
And it’s tough to not agree with that statement on the surface…
But keep in mind that by looking that way I used to it literally almost took my life.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the tannest body in the cemetery…
Knowing what I know today, I’d rather die at an old age with my natural skin and live a full life.
It’s kind of like saying a dude all jacked up on steroids looks tougher and stronger than he did before he pumped himself full of juice…
Well, of course he does!
But at what cost?
The honest truth is that for years I was a sun worshipper.
And I honestly did wear sunscreen pretty religiously… it just happened to be really low SPF sunscreen.
But the main reason that I was diagnosed with skin cancer was due to WAY TOO MUCH sun exposure without the proper attire (or a shirt in most cases).
It was countless days and hours out on the boat fishing, water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, and hanging out on the beach.
I mean, look at Luke’s tan vs mine in the pictures above. We came from the same two parents (a mix of Irish and English) and have almost identical skin tones (naturally).
I had no business being that tan because in order to get a tan like that, you have to do some serious damage to your skin. And Lord knows that I spent way too many days out fishing in the hot Florida sun without a shirt on.
Now before I reveal to you the five skin cancer tips and the best fishing sun protection fishing apparel that we have found out there, let me share with you some of the BIG (and many times painful) misconceptions about skin cancer and the sun’s harmful rays.
6 BIG Misconceptions About Skin Cancer
Here are six of the biggest (and most costly) misconceptions about the sun and skin cancer.
I hope you can learn a few sun protection facts here.
I know that I was blown away when I found out that Bob Marley and I had something in common…
1. You can’t get sun damage inside. WRONG!
It is important that you know there are two types of ultraviolet radiation that affect your skin and can cause skin cancer:
- UVB rays
- UVA rays
UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn, whereas UVA rays are the ones that cause aging (skin wrinkles).
But both can lead to increased risk in skin cancer.
Regarding sun damage while inside working, did you know that ordinary window glass blocks much of the UVB rays but it lets up to 75% of the harmful UVA rays to pass right through to your skin.
This is true in both office buildings, homes, and in cars!
So it is entirely possible to not only get some serious sun damage (and wrinkles) from sitting inside at your computer that faces a window, but it is even possible to get skin cancer over time.
It’s the reason why dermatologists recommend putting on some type of sunblock every single day, even if you work inside.
To read more on sun damage indoors, click here to read an article from Smart Skincare.
2) You can’t get sun damage or skin cancer on cloudy or overcast days. WRONG!
You pull up to the beach resort after a long day of traveling only to be disappointed that it’s a cloudy and overcast day…
No reason to put on sunscreen, right?
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can pass right through clouds and absorb into your skin.
It’s the reason you see a bunch of lobster-red tourists at the beach after sitting out in the sun all afternoon on a cloudy day with little to no sun protection.
Don’t be that person…
3) You don’t need to use sunscreen in the winter because the sun isn’t as strong. WRONG!
There is a reason that I am taking this skin cancer post live in the wintertime… it’s because all of the hype and awareness about skin cancer and protecting your skin seems to always come out right in the beginning of the summer.
Yet, a ton of skin damage is happening every winter when people let their guard down.
If you’ve ever been snow skiing, you know just how easy it is to get a sunburn while up on the slopes.
Same goes for a full day out on the water (or ice fishing) without any sunscreen. You can get fried out there even if only your face it exposed.
Not only is the sun still strong in the winter time, but snow and water reflect up to 80 percent of the harmful UV rays right back on your skin.
So whether you are ice fishing up north or offshore fishing down in Florida in January, the harmful UVA and UVB rays are both doing their damage even if you don’t feel the sun’s warmth like you do in the summer time.
Lesson: Put on sunscreen every single time you hit the water (or go outside)
4) I’m dark (or black) so I don’t have to worry about skin cancer. WRONG!
Now if you are dark skinned or black, are the chances of you getting skin cancer lower than an Irish boy like me?
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get skin cancer, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect your skin while outside fishing all day.
Do you recall how the legendary Bob Marley died?
From skin cancer… melanoma that started on his toe.
The same malignant melanoma that was in my arm hit Bob Marley in his toe… unfortunately for Bob, he discovered his too late…
5) A good sun tan is perfectly fine as long as you don’t get a sunburn… WRONG!
Now although a sunburn certainly increases your chances of developing skin cancer, the truth is that the more sun exposure that you get, the more likely you are to develop certain skin cancers.
And that is true regardless of your skin tone, tan, etc.
Dr. Martin Weinstock (chairman of the American Cancer Society’s Skin Cancer Advisory Group) said, “Any tan indicates damage to skin.”
You can read more about some of the top skin cancer myths here on a CNN article about skin damage.
6. That it’s ok to get a little burned on the first day of vacation because you will tan better the rest of the trip… SO WRONG!
I put this one in here because I heard it come out of countless young adult’s mouths back when I was in college… especially on spring break…
The thought was that you would skip putting sunscreen on the first day on the beach/boat/etc to get a bit of a sunburn, and by the next morning the redness would have gone down enough to start a good base for a sun tan the rest of the trip.
It’s on the same level of dumb thinking as getting super black out drunk the first night so that you have a better tolerance (can drink more) the rest of the trip…
Do both ideas work?
To an extent… But at what price to your body.
Don’t be that guy (or girl).
Note: I was smart enough not to partake in this kind of thinking even back in college before my skin cancer. But I have to imagine that if many of my guy friends were doing this in college years ago, that it probably still goes on today.
The Best Sun Protection Fishing Shirt
Now whether you buy one of the Salt Strong microfiber performance shirts or someone else’s, I beg of you to wear a fishing shirt with at least a 50 UPF rating.
It’s the reason that Luke and I spent so much time making sure all of our performance fishing gear was the highest UPF rating that we could find, while still being the softest and strongest fabric on the market.
And because skin cancer is something that I take incredibly serious, we have even created one line of microfiber performance fishing shirts that are quite simply the best deal on the market.
I think you will find it nearly impossible to find a softer material (with NO screen printing), along with the critical 50+ UPF fabric rating.
Click here to see the Limited Time pricing on these Sun Protection Fishing shirts that we created to help promote more anglers protecting their skin while fishing.
These Salt Strong “Strong Angler” performance shirts:
- Have 50+ UPF rating to help prevent you ever getting burned under the shirt
- Softest material we could find
- Lightweight and breathable with NO screen printing (the Salt Strong logo is literally burnt into the shirt so it breathes better and will never crack or peel like a screen printed shirt)
- Special moisture-wicking technology to keep you cool and dry even on the hottest days
- Most importantly, we lowered the price on these to make sure every angler could afford sun protection fishing gear. You will not find shirts of this quality under $32 and we have these priced at $24.97 to help get these on every angler we can to prevent skin cancer
If all anglers wore these long-sleeve performance fishing shirts every day out on the water, there would certainly be fewer anglers dying every year from melanoma.
But will a shirt stop skin cancer completely?
Of course not.
There are numerous other things you must do, so let me show you those in the video below.
5 Tips To Avoid Skin Cancer While Fishing [VIDEO]
Here is a recap of all five of the skin cancer tips from the video.
To check out the highest quality and lowest priced long-sleeve performance fishing shirt that was mentioned in the video, click here now.
Skin Cancer Tip #1
The first skin cancer tip for anglers is to have the proper sun protection apparel on while out on the water.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, always look for apparel that has a 50 UPF rating or more if possible.
I like to always cover my arms and upper body with a long sleeve performance shirt if I am going to be out on the water for any extended period of time.
And many days you will see me with long pants on as well. I try to get lightweight pants that have the zip-off bottoms in case I go wading or just want to get a little sun on my legs (the sun is great in moderation).
Finally, the right foot protection is critical. Recall that Bob Marley died from melanoma that started on his toe, and many other skin cancer victims have had their melanoma start around the foot area.
I like to wear a full boating shoe most of the time, but when I do wear flip-flops, I always make sure to lather the top of my foot and each toe with lots of sun block.
Don’t be this guy with sunburned feet.
My personal sun protection fishing gear that I recommend is as follows:
- Salt Strong 50 UPF long sleeve performance shirt (see buying options here)
- Columbia Sportswear Backcast long pants (see buying options here)
- Under Armour Hydro Spin Boat Shoes Cam0 (see buying options here)
- Salt Strong neck and face gaitor (see buying options here)
- Salt Strong hat (see buying options here)
Skin Cancer Tip #2
The next skin cancer tip for anglers is all about using sunscreen.
In particular, the right kind of sunscreen.
After seeing and speaking to numerous dermatologists over the last decade, I found one common recommendation that every single of them had in regards to sunscreen.
And that was to use sun protection with zinc oxide (in some cases it was sun block with both zinc oxide and its cousin titanium dioxide).
Why is zinc oxide so important for sun protection?
Unlike regular sunscreens (known as “Chemical Sunscreen”) that absorb into your skin and block the sun’s rays with a chemical reaction that occurs within your actual skin, zinc oxide is considered a “Physical Sunscreen” because it literally blocks and reflects off the UVA and UVB rays from your skin (just like a ball bouncing off of a wall).
Not to mention, physical sunscreens like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide don’t break down like chemical sunscreens you find in most grocery stores and marinas.
The lip balm with zinc oxide that I recommend is Dr. Dan’s SunBlock SPF 30. You can read more about Dr. Dan’s skin care and see a full review of the Dr. Dan’s lip balms here.
One of the best all-around zinc oxide sunscreen’s for the entire family that I recommend is the Raw Elements Eco SPF 30+ Sunscreen. Made for “wet and sweaty” outdoor activities. Check it out there on Amazon.
For you ladies, the Total Defense (plus Repair) SPF 50 sunscreen with zinc oxide that my wife and her dermatologist friends all use is this one from Skinmedica.
Skin Cancer Tip #3
The 3rd skin cancer tip for anglers is to “check yourself before you wreck yourself”.
Don’t wait on someone to tell you that you really need to see a dermatologist like I did with the guy on the airplane. In many cases, it may be too late.
If you spend a decent amount of time out in the sun, you owe it to yourself and your family to go in once per year to see a dermatologist.
If you take the time to brush your teeth and see a dentist once per year, then you should probably give the same kind of attention to your skin.
And periodically scan your body for any signs of skin cancer.
According to SkinCancer.org, here are the warning signs to look out for:
- A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored
- A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
- changes color
- increases in size or thickness
- changes in texture
- is irregular in outline
- is bigger than 6mm or 1/4″, the size of a pencil eraser
- appears after age 21
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed
- An open sore that does not heal within three weeks
Skin Cancer Tip #4
The 4th skin cancer tip for anglers is to always wear a hat and a pair of polarized sunglasses while out on the water.
Hats can help protect your forehead, your eyes, your scalp, and much of your face from getting sunburned (this applies for both men and women).
The right hat can also keep your head cooler and give you more energy after a long day out in the sun.
With all of the options with polarized sunglasses for anglers, there are numerous brands and options that will work great for you. It really all comes down to personal preference on sunglasses.
I personally prefer sunglasses with slightly larger frames that protect more of my face and the side of my eyes. There is a shocking amount of skin cancer that develops around the eye lids from people not wearing sunglasses while out in the sun.
I tell all of my friends and my kids every time we are hitting the water, don’t get on the boat without triple checking that you brought your hat and sunglasses. These are critical for a long day out on the water.
To see the top of the line sun protection performance hats that we recommend, click here now.
Skin Cancer Tip #5
The 5th and final skin protection tip for anglers is to wear a neck and face gaitor (aka the “Buff”).
I never ever considered wearing one of these neck or face guards until I had skin cancer.
And now that they make them in super-soft microfiber material with 50+ UPF rating (like the Salt Strong neck gaitors here), I try to bring along one of these on all of my fishing trips.
Not only does it protect your face and neck from the sun’s harmful rays, but these super-soft and breathable neck gaitors actually keep you cooler than not having one on.
Click here to see the 50+ UPF rated “super soft” Salt Strong Neck Gaitors.
How Facial Hair Can Help Prevent Skin Cancer
Women, be glad your man has a beard or facial hair!
And men, be glad that you can grow some facial hair (at least most of you anyway).
Because a study conducted by the University of Southern Queensland in Australia proved that facial hair can significantly reduce the amount of harmful ultraviolet radiation that hits your face.
In fact, facial hair was found to provide anywhere from a 2 to 21 UPF factor (so it blocks both types of harmful rays) for your face (depending on how awesome your beard is of course).
And in terms of a sunburn, a beard can decrease the chances of burning anywhere from 50 to 95 percent!
So keep those beards a growin’ gents.
To read the full report on beards protecting against sun damage at Medical Daily, click here.
What Does UPF Sun Factor Mean?
We’ve had quite a few people ask us what UPF means with our performance shirts.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor.
Think of it like the SPF rating used on sunscreen that is measuring sunburn protection, but unlike SPF, the UPF rating measures BOTH the UVB and UVA radiation (SPF only measures UVB).
UPF Sun Protection Performance Clothing:
In order to get a UPF rating (like all of the Salt Strong performance gear with at least 50 or more UPF rating), the fabrics must go through the following testing before getting an assigned UPF rating.
- The fabric must undergo 40 simulated launderings
- Be exposed to 100 fading units of simulated sunlight (which is equivalent of 2 years sunlight exposure)
- And if the fabric is intended for swimming, it must be exposed to chlorinated water
The performance sun protection gear like we sell with a 50+ UPF rating means that it blocks approximately 98% of all of the UV rays.
Click here to shop the most affordable, strongest, and softest sun protection fishing performance gear.
Dear 16-Year Old Me…
This is the video I wish I had seen (and taken seriously) back when I was “an invincible teenager” out fishing all of the time.
And if this video doesn’t get you a little emotional and fired up to take care of your skin (and your kid’s skin), then nothing will.
Perhaps it hits home for me more because I went through malignant melanoma like the people in this video, but the truth is every single one of us will be impacted by skin cancer in our lives as anglers… whether it be us, a friend, a family member, or colleague…
Check out this hard-hitting video below on skin cancer.
Now when you see me and think, “This guy doesn’t have a good enough tan for running a saltwater fishing apparel company”, you know why…
It’s just isn’t worth it to me anymore to be tan.
Now that doesn’t I mean that I judge people that are tan by any means… in fact, I am never critical on someone having a tan or having great looking skin.
But what I am critical of is people (in particular anglers) getting burned or getting fried to the point of blistering like knuckleheads…
With all of the information and amazing sun protection available today, there is just no reason to get fried out in the sun.
My skin wasn’t made for it, and once you have been diagnosed with melanoma, the chances of you getting it again (and dying from it) skyrocket.
I put sunscreen on every single day now, and I encourage everyone to do the same (just like all dermatologists do).
And even if you don’t buy one of the Salt Strong performance shirts, buy one with at least 50+ UPF. You’ll thank us down the road and so will your family…
Hope you got something out of this skin cancer post and I hope you will take the time to share it with a loved one.
Related Post: “What A Skin Cancer Survivor Wants You To Know About This Sun Protection Fishing Shirt” (see it here now)
P.S. – If you think your friends or network would like this post, please Tag them or Share this with them. It would mean a lot to me.
Fish On and protect yourself out there.
STOP WASTING TIME ON THE WATER!
Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club.
Here’s what you’ll receive today when you join:
As a fellow melanoma owner and an aspiring saltwater angler, thank you for this! I also had too many sunburns as a carefree shirtless Southern kid, and a malignant melanoma reared its ugly self on my back in 2018. Got it surgically removed, but here’s what I want your readers to also know: Melanoma is persistent and can come back! I had a 4.5-inch tumor (an “in-transit melanoma”) cut out of my back, near the original site, in the fall and am now on a year-long immunotherapy treatment program. So, do as this man says and cover up!
Thanks for bring up a subject than most don’t think about until we get to be 60 or 70 years old and the skin cancer start to appear. It’s never too late for skin protection.
That’s good to know that you could still damage your skin on overcast days. I would think that long exposure to even diluted sunlight would be bad for you. I’ll have to be sure that I am prepared to protect myself from the sun if I need to be outside for long periods of time.
I’m a bit late to the party, but I thank you for this post, Joe.
I rarely got sunburnt when I was younger, so melanoma didn’t hit me, but I still developed skin cancer (swuamos cell carcinoma) on my tongue, at 21 (drank alcohol 2 days in my life and never touched a single smokeable, be it drugs or cigarettes), despite being super healthy and avoiding putting harmful things in my mouth.
It started out the same way; a hard, white bubble started growing on my tongue. Got it looked at after being urged by my co-workers and my parents, went through the whole appointment and biopsy process and I knew something was up when, “we’ll get back to you in 15 business days,” turned into a, “come in as soon as possible,” 3 days after my biopsy was done.
But like you, it was caught in time, had surgery with no radiation (which they thought I needed, at first) or chemotherapy and now I’ll be 7 years clean in February.
I’ve been much more liberal with the sunscreen since my diagnosis, but I get sunburnt even more than I used to; thanks to this article, I think I’ve fgured out why (the UVB and UVA). Just last year, I put sunscreen on in Okinawa 3 times in 4 hours and I still got second degree burns on my shoulders and upper back, complete with blisters and reptile skin.
Awareness for the sun needs to be in people’s faces constantly, not just because of people dying, but because its too easy for things to develop into cancer or even worse, having that cancer spread and you’re at stage 3 or 4.
So again, thank you for this article and I will most-likely be purchasing one of the shirts before I head to Costa Rica next year, for a couple days of offshore ;).
All the best!
Just wanted to say thank you for the information. It is very interesting and informative as well.
My daughter kept asking me to get a spot checked out and when I finally did it was melanoma. Early detection and 15 years later I am still here. It was on the temple so no more baseball caps. Full brim Tilly brand hats which I had been wearing since ’91 ala Canadian Forces in Desert Storm One in ’91. Conclusion: Celts are very susceptible to skin cancers.
very good article and hits close for me too.
Fortunately my skin cancer has been basil cell and squamous cell.
Been free from melanoma so far.
One thing I would add is to wear a boonie type hat with a brim all the way around.
This helps protect the temples, ears and neck areas.
Some have mesh tops that let sweat evaporate for cooling.
Hey Rusty, great tip about protecting temples, ears, and neck.
If you haven’t yet tried a solar hoodie (http://shop.saltstrong.com/products/strong-angler-performance-hoodie), I highly recommend giving one a shot… very effective in sun protection and extremely comfortable to wear.
I’m 16 years old, and have fair skin. Last summer I went kayak fishing, but didnt think that my shorts would move up my legs when i sat down. My friend and I ended up getting sun poisoning. I go to the dermatologist every few months, but they havent noticed anything that looks like cancer, not even this giant mole on my face worries them. I guess i’m getting lucky. Hopefully my luck will permit me to have better weather days when I come down to Florida…
Great article. Thanks for posting it. I’m 50 now and skin cancer has always scared me.Ill try to be extra cautious this year hitting the water. Thanks again
I am a fair skinned red head, I spent my youth in California wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. I had sunburns so bad I developed blisters every year. I have spent my life in the outdoors hunting and fishing, every once in a while I wore sunscreen. 12 years ago I was diagnosed with end stage liver disease, my life was spared by a liver transplant in August 2006. One of the many medications I take is an anti-rejection drug that lowers my immune system, it has a serious side effect of making me 64 times more likely to develop skin cancer. This is in addition to all the sun abuse I brought upon myself. My Mother is very healthy but has had 2 melanomas removed along with other skin cancers. I go to an excellent Dermatologist every 4 months, I have had numerous squamous cell carcinomas removed some of them aggressive that had to be removed by MoHs surgery. Every visit to me Dermatologist results in at least a dozen pre-cancerous spots being frozen and at least once a year I need a few spots removed by cutting. I have lost count of the resulting scars. I have dozens of full brimmed hats, dozens of 50 UPF breathable shirts and pants and a few pairs of good fishing shoes. I do not spend any time outdoors without long sleeves, long pants, full brimmed hat and Neutrogena 100 SPF sunscreen covering all exposed skin.
It does seem that some of our younger generations are stating to take notice but not enough. When I interact with other outdoors people I show them my scars and try to impress upon them the risks and danger of sunlight. There are a lot of things I would have done differently in my life and paying attention to skin protection is high on that list. Covering up like I have to do now in the Florida heat and humidity is uncomfortable even with the newest generation of breathable materials. I get hot and sweaty, but I am outdoors where I love to be so I am thankful I can still enjoy hunting, fishing, biking and my convertible.
Well said and thank you for sharing that Clay. Keep spreading the good word about protecting your skin.