Young ignore skin cancer warnings

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Young people desperate for a holiday tan face the danger of skin cancer if they continue to ignore warnings about the dangers of exposure to the sun, a survey for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has found.

Young people desperate for a holiday tan face the danger of skin cancer if they continue to ignore warnings about the dangers of exposure to the sun, a survey for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has found.

Seventy per cent of those aged 16 to 24 still wanted a tan despite repeated warnings. The increase in cheap holidays abroad was also leading growing numbers of young people to top up their tans on a regular basis, the charity said.

The study of more than 1,800 people showed many were oblivious to the risks of the sun and only 7 per cent listed "don't burn" as a way of cutting the risk of skin cancer. Six per cent mentioned checking moles as a way of staying healthy.

Overall, nearly half of those questioned liked or aimed to get a tan on holiday. But this figure rose to 70.6 per cent of those aged 16 to 24, with only 7.7 per cent saying they avoided getting a tan. The latest figures show that malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, rose by 24 per cent between 1995 and 2000, with 7,000 new cases a year in the UK.

Dr Charlotte Proby, a leading dermatologist at CRUK, said many teenagers had grown up with an "obsession" about getting a tan on holiday. "Ninety per cent of skin cancers are directly related to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Cheap package holidays and a desire to have a tan are really responsible for the rise we are seeing." Sara Hiom, who co-ordinates a SunSmart campaign for CRUK, said only 2 to 3 per cent of young people realised the importance of not burning in the sun. More were starting to use sunscreen but they were not using the recommended factor 15.

Britain has a higher death rate from skin cancer than Australia, where an anti-tan campaign over 20 years has cut cases of melanoma in younger people. There are around 1,000 deaths a year from melanoma in Australia and 1,700 in the UK.

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