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Cancer Research Advice on How to Reduce Risk of Skin Cancer

Author: Cancer Research UK Published: 14th May 2014 09:51

New statistics show that skin cancer rates have soared since the mid 1970s, partly due to modern lifestyles.

woman and two small children on a beachIncidence rates of the most serious form of skin cancer are now five times higher than in the mid 1970s. Increases in package holidays and sun bed use are thought to have fuelled this rise, but it's important to be SunSmart whether you're at home or abroad.

Take a look at the Cancer Research UK tips on how to protect yourself in the sun this summer.

SunSmart - Skin Cancer Information and Sun Protection Advice

Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds

Enjoy the sun safely. Whether you're at home or abroad, use shade, clothing and at least SPF15 sunscreen to protect yourself.

UV, the sun and skin cancer
  • Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer.
  • There are two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma skin cancer, which is very common, and malignant melanoma which is less common but more serious.
  • Over 8 out of 10 melanomas in the UK (around 11,100 cases every year) are linked to too much exposure to UV rays from sunlight or sunbeds.

Who is most at risk of skin cancer?

Anyone can develop skin cancer, but some people are more likely to get the disease than others. These people tend to have one or more of the following:

  • Fair skin that burns easily in strong sun
  • Lots of moles or freckles
  • Red or fair hair
  • Light-coloured eyes
  • A personal or family history of skin cancer
  • A history of sunburn.

What if I don't have fair skin?

If you have naturally brown or black skin you are much less likely to develop skin cancer. This is because people with naturally brown or black skin have more melanin pigment in their skin cells - which helps protect the skin from damaging UV rays.

However, skin cancer can still affect people with brown or black skin. It is most common on parts of the body that aren't often exposed to the sun such as the soles of the feet.

How to enjoy the sun safely

The best way to enjoy the sun safely and protect your skin from sunburn is to use a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen. When the sun is strong or you're at risk of burning:

  • Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
  • Wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
  • Use a sunscreen with at least factor 15 and a high star rating. Use it generously and reapply regularly.

For more information & advice on how to enjoy the sun safely - Click Here

How does UV cause skin cancer?

Too much UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds can damage the genetic material (the DNA) in your skin cells. If the DNA builds up enough damage over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer.

There are two main types of UV rays that damage our skin. Both types can cause skin cancer:

  • UVB is responsible for the majority of sunburns.
  • UVA penetrates deeper into the skin. It ages the skin, but contributes much less towards sunburn.

See Here  for more

Vitamin D

We all need vitamin D to build and maintain strong bones. Our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun. This is the main source of this vitamin, but it can also be found in foods.

For more - Click Here 


Sunbeds give out harmful UV rays which damage your skin and can make it look wrinkled, older or leathery. The UV rays from sunbeds can also damage the DNA in your skin cells, and over time this damage can build up to cause skin cancer. Sunbeds can sometimes be marketed as a ‘controlled way' of getting a ‘safer tan'. But actually, sunbeds are no safer than exposure to the sun itself, and the amount of UV people receive varies enormously too.

IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) agrees there is sufficient evidence to show that using sunbeds causes malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. They also conclude that sunbeds provide no positive health benefits. Sunbeds don't protect against further damage from the sun.

The truth about sunbeds 


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