Sunbathing warnings start before summer

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The Independent Online
Cancer charities yesterday warned early sunbathers that soaking up the rays even at this time of the year could put them in danger of skin damage.

Despite the well-known link between sunburn and skin cancer there are 40,000 new cases of skin cancer reported in Britain every year and the most serious form of the disease, malignant melanoma, kills 1,500 people annually.

But while many people take precautions abroad, they still discount the risk in Britain. And experts are worried that young people still see a tan as desirable. A MORI poll for the Cancer Research Campaign found that nearly 60 per cent of 8- to 10-year-olds thought a sun-tan made them look cool.The hours around midday are the most dangerous for sunbathing with 11am-3pm being the peak period for burning. Sunbathers along the coast are most at risk because of deceptive cool breezes blowing in from the sea and the clarity of the coastal atmosphere.

Health Education Authority guidance says people should shift to the shade around midday, take care not to burn, cover up and use a high-factor sunscreen on exposed skin.

Hay fever is set to hit sufferers at least three weeks earlier than usual this year.

The Pollen Research Unit said unusually high March temperatures had hastened the production of birch tree pollen, particularly in southern England and the Midlands.