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Safety In The Sun Is A Burning Issue


Active Member
Sep 10, 2004
WITH the temperatures soaring, as they have done in Scotland this week, it's all too natural that the nation's parks and beaches are full of people peeling off their clothes and basking in the sunshine.

It makes us feel healthy and of course some sunshine is good for us. But there is a downside. Just this week NHS Health Scotland revealed that skin cancer rates have trebled since the 1970s. And new research has shown that the deadliest form of skin cancer is also set to treble in the UK unless people change their sunbathing behaviour.

The worst culprits, as a recent survey found, are teenagers and young adults. More than 70 per cent of 16-24 year olds still want a tan and many of those have admitted getting sunburnt in the effort to acquire one.

Parents are constantly warning their teenagers about the dangers of holiday binge drinking and unprotected sex. But not enough is being done to alert them to the dangers of the sun.

As Dr Charlotte Proby, a leading dermatologist for our charity, Cancer Research UK, says: "Many teenagers have grown up with an obsession about getting a tan. But young skin is very vulnerable to UV radiation. Unless young people change their habits and learn to protect themselves properly in the sun we could be heading for a skin cancer time bomb."

And Professor Brian Diffey, who advises Cancer Research's SunSmart campaign, has warned that children could be three times more likely than their grandparents to get malignant melanoma - a potentially fatal skin cancer - unless we learn to protect our skin properly in the sun.

That means more than 21,000 people a year could be diagnosed with melanoma by 2030. But even if we change our habits now the melanoma toll is still likely to double as a result of all the sun exposure we have had in the past.

This threat to our children's health is too serious to ignore. Midday sun during the summer months - even in the UK - can lead to burning and skin damage which increases skin cancer risk. And, according to research, sunburn in childhood can double the risk of melanoma in later life.

Yesterday, the Met Office website showed Edinburgh's UV Index - which shows the strength of the sun's ultraviolet radiation - at six, a level which it warns that fair skin is at high risk of damage. It's the same level Corfu was given yesterday - and few people would dream of going out in the sun without protection there.

More than 70,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer in Britain each year. More than 7000 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma which kills around 1700.