Rates of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, are five times higher in the UK than in the 1970s, new figures show.
More than 13,000 people are now developing the disease each year compared with about 1,800 in 1975. The incidence rate has also shot up from just over three per 100,000 40 years ago to about 17 per 100,000.
The dramatic rise is partly down to the huge increase in package holidays to sunny European destinations, a boom in the use of sunbeds, and the fashion for a “healthy” tan, said Cancer Research UK, which released the figures.
Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK and more than 2,000 people die from the disease each year.
Sunburn is known to increase the risk of skin cancer, especially in people with pale skin or large numbers of moles or freckles.
Nick Ormiston-Smith, head of statistics at Cancer Research UK, said: “The good news for those diagnosed is that survival is amongst the highest for any cancer; more than eight in 10 will survive it.”