The cancer charity Cancer Research UK said that two people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the United Kingdom and the rate has tripled among young people aged 15-34 years, compared with rates in the late 1970’s.
Back in the late 1970’s there were around 290 cases of skin cancer in people of this age range. Today, that figure is around 900, which equates to 5.9 cases per 100,000. Numbers have kept on steadily increasing over the years.
Cases of melanoma in all age ranges was 10,800 in 2007 – this had risen to 11,700 in 2008, a shocking rise of 8.5 percent in just one year.
Cancer is the biggest cause of death in the UK with melanoma being the second most common cancer in the 15-34 year age group. Women are more likely to get skin cancer than men.
Caroline Cerny, Manager of the SunSmart Campaign, said “It’s very worrying to see that the number of young adults being diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease has risen so dramatically, especially since cancer is typically a disease that affects older people.
“With summer approaching after such a harsh winter, everyone is looking forward to enjoying some sunshine. But it’s more important than ever to be aware of the dangers of getting sunburnt."
Cerny stressed that sunbeds are not a safe alternative. Research has found that using a sunbed before the age of 35 can increase the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
“Young women in particular need to take care since they are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than young men. The good news is that the majority of cases could be prevented by making sure you don’t get sunburnt.”
How to Avoid Sunburn
• Know your skin. If you are fair haired and fair skinned or have lots of freckles or moles, you are more likely to burn, so take extra care in the sun.
• Don’t stay in the same place for long periods of time or in direct sunlight.
• Choose a shady spot.
• Wearing more layers of clothing can sometimes prevent sunburn, for instance, by wearing a kaftan over your swimsuit instead of just the swimsuit.
Source: Cancer Research UK, April 6th 2011.