SIDEBAR: NCAA Athletes as 'SUNSPORT' Ambassadors  

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Consistent use of sunscreen is one of the key messages of SUNSPORT (Stanford University Network for Sun Protection, Organization, Research, and Teamwork). The program is geared towards reducing sun exposure among students playing in National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) sports. “The typical NCAA outdoor athlete spends 4 hours per day and 10 months per year training or competing outdoors,” according to SUNSPORT data, but while 96% of these athletes agree that sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer, “over 50% never used sunscreen and 75% used sunscreen 3 or fewer days per week.”

The program also advises athletes to use protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses, to avoid sun exposure during peak hours, and to avoid tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet light. “We are starting to really promote sun protection practices and awareness of skin cancer risk in college-age athletes and then hope that they can serve as ambassadors for younger age athletes and in high school and middle school because that adolescent population becomes more recalcitrant to sun protection messages in general,” according to Susan M. Swetter, MD. Dr. Swetter is Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Pigmented Lesion & Melanoma Program at Stanford University Medical Center and Cancer Institute in Palo Alto, California. SUNSPORT is a collaborative effort of the Stanford Department of Dermatology, the Stanford Cancer Institute, Stanford Athletics, and Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

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