Young Britons Ignoring Warnings Despite Rise in Melanoma

Young Britons Ignoring Warnings Despite Rise in Melanoma

Young skin is particularly vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation from the sun which causes skin cancer but teenagers and adults are not taking precautions, according to a new survey.

"Unless young people change their habits and learn to protect themselves properly in the sun we could be heading for a skin cancer time bomb," survey said.

The poll of 1,800 people commissioned by Cancer Research UK revealed young women are most likely to sunbathe on holiday and more prone to use low protection sun screens. Less than 10 percent of people questioned listed checking for changes in moles and not burning in the sun as preventive measures against the disease.

Skin Cancer Rates Increasing

Skin cancer is already the third most common form of cancer in 15-24 year olds in Britain after Hodgkin's disease and testicular cancer and is the fasting increasing of all cancers. Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It accounts for roughly 10 percent of reported cases of the illness and can spread rapidly throughout the body, forming secondary tumours.

Almost 7,000 people in Britain were diagnosed with the disease in 2000 and about 1,700 died. It now kills more people in Britain each year than in Australia, which has a warmer, sunnier climate. But Survey said more people are fleeing Britain's unpredictable weather and taking holidays in Spain, Greece, Portugal and other sunny countries.

Protecting Children

Since 1971, the number of Britons holidaying abroad has risen from 4,200 to 27,336 in 1994. A large proportion of new cases of skin cancer is among 15-39 year olds. "Skin cancer is a major public health issue and we need to come together as a society to tackle it," said health minister John Hutton, who announced a 400,000 pound ($727,000) government increase in funding for a national campaign to raise awareness about the disease.

Survey advised people to avoid the midday sun, to wear T-shirts, hats and sunglasses and to use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. She also said people should never let themselves burn in the sun and advised parents to protect their children.

"Childhood is the most dangerous time to receive a sunburn," Survey added.

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