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Sun loving Brits double skin cancer risk

Experts warn young against sunbathing binges


A third of young Britons will double their chance of getting the most fatal form of skin cancer this summer because they are set to burn on the beach, according to a poll out today.

A Cancer Research UK survey found that 30 per cent of young people aged 16 to 24 were ‘certain’ they would get burnt on their summer holiday, with a further 30 per cent saying they might get sunburnt.

The study of more than 2,000 people also found that 27 per cent of adults thought getting burnt was ‘all part’ of getting a tan.

One in five (19 per cent) said they planned to get burnt, and a further 21 per cent said they might.

Malignant melanoma

Malignant melanoma, which is the potentially fatal form of skin cancer, is linked to short, intense bursts of over-exposure to the sun, research has found.

Studies have also shown that sunburn doubles the risk of developing skin cancer.

Dr Lesley Rhodes, a Cancer Research UK dermatologist, said: ‘Getting sunburnt increases the risk of skin cancer in general.

‘But the kind of sunbathing binges that happen when people go to much hotter climates and bake on the beach is particularly dangerous.

‘This kind of short intense exposure to the sun, leading to burning, particularly increases the risk of malignant melanoma.

‘Each year in Britain almost 2,000 people die from this form of skin cancer.’

Addicted to sunbathing

The charity repeated its warning that rates of melanoma are set to treble in the next 30 years unless there is a ‘radical change of behaviour’ among people addicted to sunbathing.

Dr Rhodes said anyone with an unusual skin blemish or a mole that starts to change should get it examined by a doctor.

‘Signs to watch out for include a mole getting bigger, a mole with a ragged outline or one with a mixture of different shades of brown and black.

‘If a mole gets inflamed or starts to bleed or itch, then get it checked out. But it’s also important to remember that any of these signs don’t necessarily mean you have melanoma.’

Today’s research was unveiled for the launch of Cancer Research UK’s 2007 SunSmart campaign.

Campaign manager Rebecca Russell said: ‘We want to raise awareness of the danger of burning – especially when people take off for holidays in warmer countries where the temptation to spend too long on the beach can be great.

‘But it is not just a problem for those who go abroad. People, especially those with fair skin, lots of moles or freckles or a family history of skin cancer, can be at risk of burning on hot summer days in the UK.’

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