Sun Protection Special

Cheap holiday boom means skin cancer more likely than 40 years ago

By Andrew MCDOUGALL

- Last updated on GMT

Cheap holiday boom means skin cancer more likely than 40 years ago

Related tags Cancer research uk Skin cancer

Skin care brand Nivea Sun is teaming up with Cancer Research UK to encourage people to protect themselves from the sun, after new research suggests that people over 65 are around seven times more likely to develop malignant melanoma compared to 40 years ago.

According to new figures released by the charitable organisation, older men in Great Britain are around 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with this kind of life-threatening skin cancer than their parents' generation while older women are around five times more likely to develop this disease.

The most recent figures show that on average around 5,700 pensioners are now diagnosed with melanoma each year compared with just 600 in the mid-1970s.

Package holiday boom

Age is one of the reasons behind developing melanoma, but the increase in cases over the years is likely down to the cheap package holiday boom dating from the 1960s, and the desirability of having a tanned appearance even at the expense of painful sunburn.

According to research, getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple your risk of developing malignant melanoma and even reddening of the skin is a sign of damage.

Cancer Research UK and the Beiersdorf brand teamed up with a view to offering simple advice that people can follow to make sure they have a great summer while protecting their skin.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health information, said: "Many cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are preventable by taking precautions in the sun and making sure you don't burn.”

"Sun damage accumulates over time so avoiding sunburn -- and sunbeds -- is key as well as getting to know your skin type so you don't overdo it on the beach or even in the garden.”

Protection importance

The collaboration is also keen to get the message across that it is not just travel abroad and holidays that are the only time protection is needed, stating it is just as easy to burn at home.

If skin cancer is spotted and diagnosed early it has a much greater chance of being treated effectively, and Cancer Reserch also says that swapping bad sun habits for good ones could save lives.

Around 13,300 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the UK each year making it the fifth most common cancer overall in the UK and the second most common cancer in young adults (aged 15-34). Each year 2,100 people die from the disease.

Professor Richard Marais, Cancer Research UK's skin cancer expert based in Manchester, adds: "It's worrying to see melanoma rates increasing at such a fast pace, and across all age groups. It is very important for people to take care of their skin in the sun.”

“It is also important for them to keep an eye on their skin and seek medical opinion if they see any changes to their moles, or even to normal areas of skin. Melanoma is often detected on men's backs and women's legs but can appear on any part of the body."

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