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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 01:02 GMT 02:02 UK
Skin cancer 'timebomb' warning
Sun worshippers take care abroad but not at home
Sun worshippers take care abroad but not at home
Experts warn sun-worshippers are creating a "skin cancer timebomb" because they use high-factor creams abroad but not at home, a survey suggests.

It appears people believe UK sun is "safer" than the sun they soak up abroad.

The charity Cancer Research UK and supermarket chain Tesco are joining forces to stress people must take care to protect against the sun wherever they are.

Their Be SunSmart awareness drive includes posters, leaflets and advice on skin cancer, sun lotion and moles.

A survey of 300 people conducted by Tesco Online during April and May found almost six out of 10 men and four out of 10 women said they never used a protective cream during sunny periods in the UK.

It seems clear that people are underestimating the strength of the sun in the UK

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK
This was despite the fact that about half said they had been burnt more in the UK than when abroad.

Four out of 10 said they were surprised they burned at home.

Eighty per cent were burned while taking part in outdoor activities, rather than while sunbathing.

Skin DNA damage

Cases of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of the skin cancer, are on the increase.

In 1997, there were 5,768 cases, rising to 6,006 in 1998 - a rise of 4%.

Newcastle-based Dr Mark Birch-Machin, a Cancer Research UK skin cancer expert, is carrying out research in Newcastle to examine skin damage.

He said: "People are unaware of the very real risk posed by the sun in the UK and the damage it can cause to the skin's DNA.

"Accumulation of this damage can lead to a skin cancer time bomb."

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK's Director of Cancer Information, said: "It seems clear that people are underestimating the strength of the sun in the UK.

"We all need to cover up, not only when sunbathing but when playing sport or even just when we're out shopping on a sunny day."

To stay safe, Cancer Research UK recommends people should:

  • avoid the sun at its height (usually 11am-3pm)
  • use shade wherever possible
  • take extra care of children's delicate skin
  • never put babies under six months in the sun
  • wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection
  • use clothes to cover-up
  • use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 with UVA protection, even if you have a tan
  • avoid sunbeds and tanning lamps
  • check skin and report unusual changes immediately.

See also:

28 Mar 02 | Health
Men's skin cancer risk
04 Jun 01 | Health
Skin cancer cases surge
26 Apr 00 | Health
UK tans on despite danger
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