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Skin cancer warning as public plans summer holidays

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For many, it will be the first holiday in two year For many, it will be the first holiday in two years

People must be vigilant about the effects of skin damage, as data released by charity Melanoma Focus shows 35% of adults in the UK are planning a summer holiday to a hot country.

For the majority (72%) of them it will be their first holiday in a hot climate since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts have voiced concerns in response to the new data which also shows that, of those planning on a holiday in a hot climate this summer, only 61% plan on always wearing sunscreen dropping to 49% of 18 to 25 year olds.

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Around half (42%) of people who do not regularly wear sunscreen when travelling to a hot country, say it’s because they don't expect to burn or that they have a preference to get tanned. This is despite the fact that, prior to the pandemic, 59% of respondents said they would sunburn at least once per year.

‘86% of melanoma skin cancer cases are preventable. We’re not telling people they shouldn’t enjoy their Summer but, if you’re going to be exposed to the sun then it’s crucial that you protect your skin from a young age,’ said Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus.

‘Apply a combined UVA and UVB sunscreen SPF 30 or above and repeat applications every two hours. Wear a hat, sunglasses and cover up exposed skin, especially in the heat of the day and stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm if you can.’

The vast majority (86%) of melanoma skin cancer is preventable yet the new data shows that less than a third of people (27%) knew that SPF 30 or above is generally advised as the most appropriate level of sunscreen protection and only 16% of respondents always wear sunscreen when in the UK while 28% said they do ‘most of the time’.

Importantly, the survey also showed that 1 in 8 people (12%) aren't wearing sunscreen because it is too expensive and people on the very lowest incomes are less likely to wear sunscreen than any other economic group. Other reasons cited were a desire to tan, a belief they won’t burn or a feeling that sunscreen is too messy and unpleasant to wear.

‘Exposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds, particularly when young, can cause permanent DNA damage in the skin making it more likely for skin cancers to develop.

Many people don’t fully realise how dangerous sunburn can be,’ said Professor Catherine Harwood, Consultant Dermatologist at Barts Health and Trustee at Melanoma Focus.

‘People with pale skin are especially susceptible to the sun's harmful rays but anyone can develop skin cancer.’

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