Cover up mate!
Latest statistics from Cancer Research show that since the late 1970s, skin cancer rates have more than quadrupled in Great Britain.
The increase is larger in males, where rates have increased more than 540%, than in females, where rates have increased by 260%.
In the South East there were 420 deaths in 2014 from malignant melanoma (skin cancer).
Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer which can develop slowly over time. So while sunburn might feel better in a few days, it may have done long term damage which could be fatal.
This summer the NHS is spearheading a sun safe campaign, with men a particular focus because research indicates that they are much less likely than women to slap on the sunscreen.
Top sun safe tips include:
- Use at least factor 15 sunscreen in the sun and use plenty of it
- Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin – don’t forget your neck and ears and your head if you have thinning or no hair
- Wear sunglasses and a hat
- Take particular care if have fair skin, moles or freckles, red or fair hair, or light-coloured eyes.
The Cover Up Mate campaign launches as new data suggests the danger is not confined to the height of summer, following good weather in April and May which could have damaged winter-pale skin.
Mean ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels at the South East’s solar monitoring station in Oxfordshire were 40 per cent higher than the ten year monthly average in April this year, and 15 percent higher in May.
Public Health England (PHE) scientists believe this was caused by long periods of clear skies, with less rain and cloud to absorb UV.
The Met Office recorded that the mean daily temperature in the South East was 0.7°C higher than average in April and 1.5°C higher than average in May. April also saw 21 per cent more sunshine hours, with just 18 per cent of average rainfall recorded. After a dry start to May, there was overall 1 per cent less sunshine and 27 per cent more rain than average, due to an unsettled spell mid month and thunderstorms at the end.
The better weather may have prompted people to spend more time outside, thereby exposing themselves to the greater UV levels. This was also a time of year their skin would naturally have lost resistance to UV over winter, and they were less likely to cover up than in summer.
Professor John O’Hagan, from PHE, said: “This spring we had longer periods of sunshine and more people spending time outside. It all led to people being at far greater risk of sunburn at a time when their un-acclimatised skin was more susceptible.”
Met Office spokeswoman Penny Tranter said: “UV levels in the UK are usually highest between April and October, particularly between 11am and 3pm. Clouds don’t always stop UV rays, and unlike the sun’s warmth, it’s difficult to know when they may be harming you. Burning just once every two years can triple your risk of skin cancer. So it’s important to keep up to date with our UV forecast so you know when it’s essential to protect your skin and eyes from damage. You can do this by going into shade, wearing clothing and sunglasses which shield you from the sun, and using sunscreen on unprotected skin.”