Young Adults in UK Risking Skin Cancer by ‘Binge Tanning’

by Thilaka Ravi on  May 5, 2008 at 2:17 PM Cancer News
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Young Adults in UK Risking Skin Cancer by ‘Binge Tanning’
Cancer Research UK has warned that one in three under 25s are risking skin cancer by 'binge tanning'.

The cancer charity found that a third of young adults aged 15 to 24, spend more than five hours a day in the sun on holiday, increasing their chances of developing life-threatening skin cancer.

The survey by Cancer Research UK, published to mark the beginning of Sun Awareness Week, also showed that almost a third (32%) of those polled would be happy to increase their time in the sun if they did not feel tanned enough as they neared the end of their break.

Nearly 50% said they would be upset if they returned from a holiday without a tan.

Around one in three (29%) would use sunscreen with a low protection factor in order to speed up their tanning, 19% would be happy to go without sunscreen altogether for maximum tan and 15% would use products like baby oil to quicken the tanning process.

What is most disturbing is that 17 per cent of those surveyed dismissed sunburn lightly as part of getting a tan.

Cancer Research UK dermatologist Lesley Rhodes, expressing her concern that young adults are spending too much time in the sun said, "Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the primary cause of skin cancer and responsible for around 80 per cent of cases of melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer."

"In addition to the short-term discomfort and impact on appearance, sunburn also causes permanent irreversible damage leading to premature-aging and significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. Put simply, the more time young people are spending in the sun, the more damage they are doing to their skin," she added.

Cancer Research UK observed that 25-to 34-year-olds also showed a tendency towards binge tanning.

One in five admitted to spending more than five hours a day in the sun, while16 per cent said they would increase their time lying under the sun if they weren't satisfied with the tan towards the end of their holiday.  

Rebecca Russell, SunSmart campaign manager at Cancer Research UK, said, "What's particularly worrying is the lengths young people will go to get a tan, including burning. Sunburn can double the risk of melanoma."

"People who spend their summer holidays outdoors should remember to enjoy their time safely and use sun protection - shade, clothing and factor 15 or above sunscreen - to reduce their risk of skin cancer," she added.

She also added that if people were really desperate for a tan their best option would be to fake it.  That would be the only way to get a tanned appearance without causing sun damage.

Fresh guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive, still open to consultation, suggest a ban on sun beds for those under18 years.

The cancer charity's other recommendations include spending time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, reporting mole changes or unusual skin growths promptly to a doctor.

Source: Medindia

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