Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK


UK

Scorcher ahead as health row heats up

Good news this weekend for dedicated sunbathers

The UK's sun worshippers are looking forward to a scorching weekend. But on a day that could turn out to be the hottest this year, controversy rages over claims by a team of doctors that sunshine could be more healthy than harmful.

Much of the country was experiencing high temperatures on Friday with more blue skies and sunshine predicted for the next few days.


[ image: Health or hazard?]
Health or hazard?
The west is expected to see the best weekend weather - good news for sunseekers heading for the beaches of Devon, Cornwall and West Wales.

Temperatures in London were expected to reach 28C (82F) on Friday, up from Thursday's 27C (81F), while Glasgow, could hit 26C (79F).

Health risks and benefits

Meanwhile, the row over whether or not sunbathing is healthy is heating up.

In an article in the British Medical Journal, a group of researchers from Bristol University argued that the benefits from sun-bathing may outweigh the risk of skin cancer.

They were immediately accused of undermining years of public health campaigns which warned people to be wary of the dangers of the sun.

But one of the doctors behind the article has sought to calm the critics. Dr David Gunnell stressed while people should avoid excessive exposure to the sun, it should not be ignored that it might help prevent rickets, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and depression.

"What we have said is we need to carefully balance up the benefits and disbenefits of sunlight exposure," he told BBC Breakfast News.

"What is important is not to lose sight of the message that rates of skin cancer are rising and sunlight plays a role in that, but at the same time there may be some beneficial effects of exposure to sunlight."

Habits unchanged

At Southsea on the south coast of England, where Friday's temperatures soared up to 26C (79F), most sun-lovers said they were pleased to hear that sunbathing could be healthy. But they said it would not change their habits one way or another.

Rachel Gardiner, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, who was at the beach with her two-year-old son George, said: "I'm very careful about George but we do spend a lot of time in the sun. I always have, since I was little, and I think people just do what they want.

"There are so many things that are meant to be good or bad for you that you just end up ignoring all of them.

"I know the sun ages your skin but it does make me feel happy. Everyone has a bit of a glow to them at this time of year."

Mary Gould, 49, also from Portsmouth, said she had always thought the sun was good for you.

She said: "If you were ill 20 years ago the first thing the doctor would tell you was to get a bit of sun. Now everyone knows you have to be careful and use sunscreen, so I think it is good for you as long as you tan gradually.

"I enjoy the feel of the sun on my skin but I do use suntan lotion until I've built up my basic tan. Then it's not worth using after that."





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

09 Jul 99 | Health
Controversy over sun health claim

29 Jun 99 | Medical notes
Handling the heat





Internet Links


BBC Weather Centre

British Medical Journal


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online