Farmers urged to 'Know Your Skin'

Don’t forget that that you can get sunburn even on cloudy, chilly, or windy days from April to September. The Irish Cancer Society reports that over 90% of the days between these two months can have UV levels high enough to damage skin.

“Skin cancer is the single most common cancer in Ireland with over 13,000 cases per year,” says Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager.

Farmers are exposed to two to three times more UV radiation from the sun compared with people who work indoors, putting them at a higher risk of skin cancer.

One in four (23%) of skin cancer deaths in Ireland occur amongst those who worked in the construction, outdoor and farming industries.

Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager, Irish Cancer Society.

This summer, the Irish Cancer Society is urging people to #KnowYourSkin and become aware of signs and symptoms of skin cancer. Check every month for changes and speak to your doctor if you are worried.

Warning signs to look out:

  • A small lump that is smooth, pearly, or waxy
  • A new growth or sore that does not heal in a few weeks
  • Constant skin ulcers that are not explained by other causes
  • A flat, red spot that is scaly, crusty, or bleeding
  • A lump that is firm, scaly or has a crusted surface, and may be sore
  • Rough, scaly, irregular patches of skin
  • A new mole or a change in shape, size, or colour of an existing mole
  • A dark patch under your nail that gets bigger and wasn’t caused by an injury.
  • Anyone with questions or concerns can contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line on 1800 200 700, email or visit

    Hygiene risks of ‘smart’ cooking

    Disinfect your smart device before cooking. \iStock

    Research from a new Safefood study shows that there are potential food safety consequences when using smartphones or tablets while cooking.

    It found that one in three participants in the study didn’t wash their hands after touching raw chicken and before touching a smart device.

    Safefood points out that bacteria like salmonella and E.coli can survive on the screen of a smart device for more than 24 hours.

    In the study, participants had their hands and personal devices swabbed to analyse for food poisoning bacteria. During a 30-minute cooking activity, participants touched their smart device on average almost six times. After cooking, around 6% of pre-cleaned smart devices were found to be contaminated with potentially food poisoning bacteria.

    Safefood advises people to disinfect their smart device before and after cooking using antibacterial wipes (containing at least 70% alcohol). Make sure to pay close attention to the screen, buttons and edges.

    For more information see

    Hike in average cost of health insurance

    According to the Health Insurance Authority (HIA), 46.8% of the population now have private health insurance. The average adult premium is now €1,685 per year, up almost 13% since early 2023.

    Vhi Healthcare retain the largest market share, followed by Laya healthcare and Irish Life Health.

    “There have been a number of health insurance price increases across the market in the past 12 months which is attributed to medical inflation and an increase in claims,” says Ray Dolan, CEO of the HIA.

    He advises consumers to review their cover each year and shop around to find the best fit and value for their lifestyle needs.

    Currently, there are 351 plans on the market. The majority of consumers have plans with substantial cover in private hospitals (semi-private accommodation) while just 10% have plans with cover mainly in public hospitals.

    See the free comparison tool on

    Did you know?

    Women aged 32-35 can avail of free contraception from 1 July, the Minister for Health has announced.

    This means that all Irish women, aged from 17-35 will be able to apply for the scheme.

    Launched in 2022, and open to women, girls, and people who identify as transgender or non-binary, it covers the costs of GP consultations, family planning, student health and primary care centres as well as prescriptions for a variety of contraception options.

    Almost 2,400 GPs and 2,050 pharmacies are now providing services under this scheme.

    Have your say in AI heathcare in Ireland

    Would you like to be a member of a Citizens’ Jury tasked with developing a series of recommendations to Government, related to the role of AI in healthcare in Ireland?

    The jury of 25 people will focus on the social, ethical, legal and practical considerations of increasing the use of AI in healthcare.

    From reading scans and bloodwork; personalising treatments; monitoring outcomes; and managing waiting lists, AI has the potential to fundamentally change our experience of healthcare. However, it also raises important questions around accountability and responsibility for decisions made by AI, as well as the quality of care and how patient safety is protected.

    The jury will hear from expert witnesses over a 10-week period on the benefits and challenges posed by the use of AI in healthcare in Ireland. Members will have the chance to cross-examine and tease out the issues before delivering their verdict which is intended to inform future policy on this topic. This is an initiative of IPPOSI (Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry).

    Deadline is 21 June. For more information see

    Did you know?

    Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced that 2024 will see the roll-out of a patient app that will provide people with important medical history and records. ‘Shared Care Record’ will integrate patient records no matter what part of the health service they engage with.

    Measles: what are the warning signs

    Cold-like symptoms, a high temperature and a rash can all be indicators of measles. \ iStock

    Sporadic measles cases continue to be reported to the HSE. From 2020-2023, most confirmed cases reported recent travel to countries where outbreaks were ongoing.

    However, in 2024 to date, just over half of the cases reported have had no known travel link. Small outbreaks with person-to-person measles transmission are also being reported. Measles is an acute viral disease and highly contagious.

    Be aware of these symptoms

  • cold-like symptoms
  • sore red eyes
  • a temperature of 38 degrees or above
  • a rash, which usually appears on the head and neck first and spreads to the rest of the body
  • If you develop these symptoms, please seek medical advice. Phone ahead prior to attending any healthcare setting to let them know you have these symptoms, so they can make necessary arrangements to prevent potential further spread to others.

    Am I immune?

    If you have received two MMR vaccines, have previously been infected with measles, or were born in Ireland before 1978, you are probably immune.

    If you are probably not immune, avoid contact with vulnerable individuals for 21 days from the time of possible exposure.

    If your work involves contact with vulnerable people tell your line manager that you have been exposed to measles.

    Vulnerable people include

  • pregnant women
  • babies under 12 months of age
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • If you are not vaccinated against measles with two doses of MMR, you can contact your GP during normal working hours to discuss it. The best way to protect yourself and those around you against measles is by getting the MMR vaccination.

    Children should receive their first dose of MMR vaccine at one year of age and a second dose in junior infants at 4-5 years.

    There is also a free catch-up MMR option via participating GPs for those who may have missed their vaccination when younger.

    Further information about measles is available