Rash Danish holidaymakers go for the burn

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The Independent Online
THE Danes already have a bad name among the Eurocrats in Brussels for saying 'no' to the Maastricht treaty. But that is not their only sin. They also sit in the sun too much.

A private poll carried out for the European Commission and published this week reveals that the Danes are the European Community's most reckless sun-worshippers.

Defying doctors' advice to go slowly, some 19 per cent of them try to acquire a tan as fast as possible when they go on holiday, compared with only 9 per cent of Britons and a mere 7 per cent of Greeks. And 19 per cent of Danes unwisely spend 'a long time' in the sun - a higher proportion than in any other EC country.

But the Danes do not appear to get their just deserts. According to the poll it is the Irish who suffer most painfully from sunburn: 16 per cent of them say they 'always burn', compared with only 9 per cent of Danes.

The Commission is making a special effort to teach the Danes the error of their ways: it has targeted Denmark as the object of a special campaign, orchestrated from its Copenhagen bureau, against unsafe sunbathing.

Jean Nicolas Ormsby, a Franco-American public health specialist at the Commission, says that Europe is seeing a huge increase in melanoma (skin cancer). According to an article in the European Journal of Cancer, the incidence of skin cancer in 1990 was 60 per cent higher than a decade earlier. Some 5,000 Europeans die of the disease every year.

Sunbathing is not the only target of the Commission's anti-cancer campaign. A 30- strong unit in Brussels, with a budget of pounds 35m to spend by 1994, has drawn up a 10- point plan to reduce by 15 per cent by 2000 the number of EC deaths from cancer. Among the recommendations: drink less, lose weight, eat more fruit and go to the doctor if you have abnormal bleeding.

The unit's firmest order is to stop smoking - yet as part of the Common Agricultural Policy the EC subsidises tobacco- growing to the tune of more than pounds 850m a year.

According to Ray McSharry, the EC's agriculture Commissioner, 200,000 small family producers in Italy and Greece depend on the subsidies for their livelihoods. More than twice as many people die in the EC every year from tobacco-related diseases.