Red-faced Britons risk sunburn

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Britons are more likely to get sunburnt at home than on foreign holidays, Government research confirmed today.

And as flaming June finally begins to live up to its name, statistics showed it was the most likely month for injury, with 32 per cent of recorded cases.

The myth that a Spanish costa or Greek island poses a more serious health risk than the back garden was dispelled in research commissioned by the Department for Health. Some 54 per cent of recorded cases happened at home, it showed.

Men, who are less inclined to seek a tan, were more likely to have been burnt in the past year than woman - 39 per cent compared with 34 per cent. However, sun worshippers who oil up and stretch out to catch the rays remain the most at-risk group.

Dr Andrew Bulman, co- author of the report, said: "Our research clearly links the desire for a tan with a doubling of the risk of burning in the sun. The idea that everyone looks better with a tan is damaging many people - particularly the 12 per cent whose skin does not tan.

"A more thoughtful attitude to both tanning and sunburn needs to develop if we want healthy skin for ourselves and our children later in life."

Katie Aston of the Health Education Authority's skin cancer campaign said: "People often think the sun in the UK somehow doesn't count."

She said people were more aware of safety in the sun, but added: "The challenge is to get them to put this into action, to do something about it."

The report, published in the Journal of Public Health Medicine, is part of the Government's Health of the Nation strategy, which aims to stop an annual increase in skin cancer cases. It said although knowledge of sun protection was high in Britain, research from Australia showed people tended to overestimate the extent to which they were taking precautions.

Of those polled in Britain, 38 per cent of adults said they were unaware of burning at the time and 31 per cent of households with children reported incidents of child sunburn.

nResearchers interviewed 2,025 adults for the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys' omnibus survey in England, Scotland and Wales.