That old, worn-out ball cap that has endured the best adventures and likely the worst for the dress is a time-honored sight. Torn and consumed, faded and, let’s face it, absolutely filthy, it speaks more to the fisherman’s brand than to any brand that can be scratched on the lid. It is a part of the statement, which aims to promote the person under it. But if you want to fish well until retirement, maybe it’s time to put it on a shelf where you can still talk about your past adventures, but stop leaving your face and head too exposed to the worst. the sun that causes cancer. ultraviolet rays.
A few years ago, I went to the dermatologist to see a small lump in my right ear. I did this only because it hurt me and would not heal. Because my ball caps do not cover the top of my ears, they are almost always the first place to put sunscreen. But I am negligent in that department. My usual application once a day is likely to be three applications too few. So when I arrived, the doctor took a similar device with a punch hole and pulled a piece out of my ear. A few weeks later, the biopsy results came back negative. The bullet escaped. But the warning was taken.
It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Every hour, two Americans die from skin cancer and more than 9500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. It is the most common form of cancer and, while most people survive it, it can be deadly.
The main cause of most melanomas is prolonged exposure to the sun. A single sunburn may not be a warning sign of the disease, but five or more sunburns double the risk of getting melanoma. For fishermen, especially those who spend time in and on the water, the danger can be acute.
Jo (photo: Ryan Forbus).
Danger from above
The ball cap, although it may provide some protection for the fisherman’s face directly below the card, is an inadequate preventative. Throwing a face mask in the mix may help, but for many of us, especially in the summer or on long visits to saltwater areas, these wonderful little sunscreens are very hot.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “hats should have a minimum edge of 3 inches around the perimeter or a minimum 3-inch bill with a curtain permanently attached to cover the neck and ears.” Furthermore, SCF recommends that hats be either dark or light (not white or light colored) and be made of tightly woven fabric.
“Dark or light colors prevent UV rays from reaching your skin by absorbing them instead of allowing them to penetrate,” says SCF.
Fortunately, here style meets function. And where the function meets the defense. A wide-brimmed hat, from a simple Indiana Jones-type fedora to a number of thatched straws that can create images of an eight-year-old tomato gardener, is likely to be the best alternative for days spent in the water. Yes, you might think you look stupid. But, in 20 years, you can still have most of the nose. And honestly, some of the options out there these days are not bad. Some, dare I say it, are quite stylish.
Failed again (photo: Earl Harper).
What is hidden below
Moreover, while most of us realize that the sun hits us from above, many of us forget that water, especially flat water, is reflective and sunlight also draws us out from below. No hat in the world will protect the reflective rays coming from below, but a wide-brimmed hat will help disperse UV.
“When it comes to sun protection, a wide-brimmed hat is your best choice,” Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist, told How Stuff Works. “And the wider the lip, the better. A wide-brimmed hat will protect you from direct UV rays, as well as rays reflected from water and sand. “
I’m just as guilty – if not more so – as anyone else when it comes to failing to protect my face (and arms and legs) from the sun. However, it’s not like I’m not trying. In recent years, I have become an ardent believer in the sun hood – lightweight synthetic shirts that cover the entire upper body and offer the possibility of a light hood to be pulled over the head when the sun is extremely bright . Wear the gaiter too. And long fishing pants that dry quickly. And sunglasses – years ago, my ophthalmologist warned me that my eyes were at risk of damage due to unlocked sunglasses, and since then, I keep sunglasses off almost all the time. It does not seem to matter what I do during fishing excursions that last a few days or more. I still get out of the water with raccoon eyes and a living burn.
And as mentioned, I failed in the hats department. My collection stained with the sweat of branded hats may be one that most will admire. But to me, hats are utilitarian. The bill keeps the sun straight from my eyes. The ball cap helps reduce shine and helps me see where you are throwing and, if I am lucky, towards what you are throwing. This is why I and I would dare say that the vast majority of fishermen wear hats – not because we are trying to protect our faces from the UV rays that cause sun cancer.
Serious sun protection? Not that much.
In recent years, I’ve got to wear a straw-style fedora over the summer. It’s not an extremely functional hat for anything other than everyday wear, but it covers the tips of my ears, shaking me for the close call to the dermatologist.
But when I fish, I still have not found the sweet spot in the Ven diagram where protection, comfort and function come together. Sadly, I often go with function and comfort and hope my face gum and sun hood fill in the gaps.
If he can do it, so can you (photo: Fish).
I am genetically at risk. With family origins in the British Isles and western continental Europe, I can be classified as “hopeless white”. And the sun has made its impact over the years on my face, on my arms and, yes, on the tips of my hands. But the dermatologist – a man I see quite often now and we are based on the name – is more concerned about the skin of the face and ears. And I’m under strict orders to find a lid that really protects from the sun.
I know there are options – from light and flip flops to elegant and stylish fedoras – that will do it. It’s a matter of prioritizing protection and finding comfort and function as I go.
I’m going to south florida for a quick retreat with friends next week and am planning to fish on the beach. My travel bag has some hats, gates and a sun hood already packed – and, reluctantly, sunscreen. Hopefully, by the time you board the plane home, that little sweet spot will become apparent and I will have a better long-term plan to defend against a walk-out, centered around accurate surgical procedures and biopsy results.
Or maybe I’ll just start growing tomatoes.