Experts are voicing their concerns as cases of the deadly melanoma continue to rise over Britain and especially in sunny West Country regions like Cornwall.
According to dermatologists, though the summers get increasingly hot each year, Britons are still not aware of how to protect themselves from the deadly rays.
AdvertisementOfficial figures declare malignant melanoma to be the UK's fastest growing cancer, with rates tripling in the three decades to 2003, the latest year for which national statistics are held. Yet a conference of the British Association of Dermatology (BAD) will hear this week that since 2003 the rise in skin cancer cases has been even higher.
The latest research shows that in Cornwall there has been an increase of 18 per cent in the number of cases between 2003 and 2005.
As of now, there are more deaths from malignant melanoma in Britain, with 1,800 fatalities and thousands more diagnoses every year, than in Australia, where there are about 1,000 deaths annually. Figures released by Cancer Research in April show cases have increased by 29 percent in men and 14 percent in women over the past 10 years.
According to skin specialists, too many people mistakenly believe they can stay in the sun for longer if they use high-factor sunscreens, but significant skin damage can be caused, even if sunscreens prevent burning.
Experts' advice include staying out of the sun between peak sunny hours , covering up with a T-shirt, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, using a high-factor sun screen and drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
Says Rebecca Smart, manager of Cancer Research UK's "Sunsmart" campaign, who expects the trends in Cornwall to be echoed nationally: "A lot of this is about people spending time outdoors. On top of that we have got increasing numbers of people using tanning facilities." Under the European Commission guidance, sunscreen manufacturers have been asked to simplify the way sun creams are labeled, designating them as low, medium, high or very high protection.