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Tuesday, 24 April, 2001, 23:38 GMT 00:38 UK
Sunbathers 'would ignore cancer scare'
Sunbather on a beach in Cyprus applying lotion
All sunbathers are urged to use protective lotion
Some UK suntan fanatics are so desperate for bronzed skin that even a skin cancer scare would not stop them, according to a new survey.

The NOP survey for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) "Sun Sense or Sun Abuse?" campaign found that 14% of the British public would still want a tan even after experiencing the worry of potential skin cancer.

Despite numerous public health campaigns emphasising the cancer risks and damage caused by sunburn, it looks like British people will still hope to return from their summer holidays with a tan.

Sun tips
Stay out of sun 11am to 3pm
Cover up in sun and wear sunglasses
Wear factor 15 sunscreen with four-star UVA rating
Protect yourself while swimming
Children need extra protection
Keep babies under one year out of sun
Three-quarters of Britons say they like having a suntan at some time during the year, and nearly a quarter prefer a year-round tan.

But the researchers noted that British people have confused views on people with tans. While more than seven out of ten agree those with tans take risks with their health, a similar number think tanned people look healthy.

Many people associate tans with vanity but fashion clearly influences public behaviour - 17% of people would not want a tan if pale skin became fashionable.

'Reckless' sunbathers

The survey found that more than one in five adults will binge sunbathe over a weekend to achieve a suntan, with the worrying tendency particularly pronounced in younger people.

British people can be reckless with 24% of those surveyed only using low factor sunscreen and 14% sunbathing with no protective sunscreen at all.

Participants were also asked how they felt about male and female celebrities with or without tans.


A suntan shows that the skin is being damaged by too much sunlight

Dr Charlotte Proby
Dermatologist
Those surveyed preferred Titanic star Kate Winslet, sometimes described as a classic pale-skinned "English rose", without a tan.

But 39% thought former Big Breakfast presenter Denise van Outen would look better with a tan although a quarter did not know who she was.

"I'm concerned at how desperate some people are for a tan", said Dr Charlotte Proby, consultant dermatologist at ICRF.

"A suntan shows that the skin is being damaged by too much sunlight and is trying to protect itself.

"Sun-seeking behaviour and inadequate sun protection increases the risk of the skin being sunburned and this damage will increase the risk of developing skin cancer."

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See also:

15 Mar 00 | Health
Twins offer skin cancer clue
09 Jul 99 | Health
Controversy over sun health claim
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