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Overview of Skin Cancer

Rates of skin cancer are increasing faster than any other cancer, with figures doubling every 10 to 20 years. And in some areas, studies have revealed a rise in melanoma cases of 18 percent in just two years, according to the British Association of Dermatologists. More than 10,400 cases of malignant melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK and over 2,400 will die from the disease this year alone.

But surely it won’t happen to me?

Wrong. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young, middle-aged or old, melanoma doesn’t discriminate where age is concerned. The simple fact is that if you fail to protect your skin in the sun and allow your skin to burn, you’re putting yourself at risk.

According to the British Association of Dermatologists, one in ten people don’t bother using sunscreen and a third of those who do are using below SPF15.

Skin cancer used to be most prevalent amongst 50-somethings, the commonest age for most cancers to strike, but research has shown that men and women born in the 1970's and now in their 30s are being diagnosed with melanoma at an alarming rate.

Experts believe this is a legacy of the package holiday which became fashionable around 1970. All of a sudden Britons were jetting off in their thousands to roast themselves on a beach in Spain for two weeks, blissfully unaware of the major link we now know exists between skin cancer and sunbathing.

According to dermatologists you don’t have to lay on a beach every day for two weeks to be at risk though. Spending just ten minutes walking or sitting around in strong sunshine at lunchtime, for instance, without wearing sunscreen can be enough to get sunburned and cause damage to exposed skin.

The good news is that skin cancer can be almost totally prevented just by adopting some simple and inexpensive suncare habits and it’s never too late to start protecting yourself properly.

There’s no getting away from the fact that sunshine makes us feel good, it’s essential to enable our bodies to produce vitamin D and it triggers the release of the so-called “happy” chemical, seratonin, that boosts our mood. Casual sun exposure of the hands and face (approximately 30-60 minutes per week) is sufficient to give most people adequate vitamin D levels to sustain bone health.
There’s also no avoiding the fact that skin cancer is on the increase and it’s a killer. So, before you strip off and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin this summer, whether you’re on an idyllic beach abroad or you’re enjoying something as simple as a picnic or a bike ride in this country, ask yourself one question: Am I being sun safe or am I dying to get a tan?