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Sun Exposure and Photoprotection: Habits, Knowledge and Attitudes Among Elite Kitesurfers

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Kitesurfing is one of many water sports that are growing in popularity throughout the world. In such sports, practitioners are exposed not only to direct sunlight but also to reflection from the water surface, which aggravates the impact of solar radiation on the skin. This study sought to analyse the photoprotection and photoexposure habits and knowledge of elite kitesurfers and their beliefs and attitudes in this respect. A sample of convenience of 72 male kitesurfers completed a validated questionnaire in full. By Fitzpatrick phototype, the most common classes were types I and II (69.4%). On average, kitesurfers had been practising their sport for 10.93 years, at a rate of 13.93 h per week. During the last sports season, 84.7% of respondents had suffered at least one sunburn, while 43.1% had been sunburned at least three times. The sun protection practice most commonly adopted was the use of sunscreen cream, which was used by 79.2% of respondents. Although 43.2% of respondents recognized to be worried about they might get skin cancer from the sun, 31.9% does not like using sunscreen and 44.4% like sunbathing. Regarding the respondents’ knowledge of facts about sun exposure, the average rate of correct answers for the items evaluated was 66.9%. In conclusion, elite kitesurfers are potentially exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation, which caused numerous sunburn episodes during the last sports season. It is necessary to raise these athletes’ awareness of their risk of developing skin cancer and of the need to improve their sun protection and skin surveillance practices.

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The authors thank the World Kite Surfing Championships Organization in Tarifa and the Spanish Kiteboarding League for their generous cooperation with this research study.

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Correspondence to Guillermo de Castro Maqueda or José Vicente Gutiérrez-Manzanedo.

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The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the Costa del Sol Hospital Research Ethics Committee in May 2019. All data were collected anonymously and processed in accordance with Spanish legislation for the protection of personal data and digital rights (Organic Law 3/2018, of 5 December).

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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de Castro Maqueda, G., Gutiérrez-Manzanedo, J.V., González-Montesinos, J.L. et al. Sun Exposure and Photoprotection: Habits, Knowledge and Attitudes Among Elite Kitesurfers. J Canc Educ 37, 517–523 (2022).

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