Marking the beginning of the Sun Awareness Week on Monday, the British Association of Dermatologists carried out a survey of over 1000 Brits and found that nearly three quarters of them (72 per cent) were sunburned last year thereby doubling their risk of skin cancer.
Johnathon Major of BAD says that the survey findings are shocking and as the Sun has already made its appearance in part of the UK, the number of people suffering from sun burns is likely to remain high this year as well. Major pegs this as a “reflection of poor sun protection habits” with people underestimating the dangers of sunburns and the damage they can do to their skin.
The concern about sunburns is valid owing to the fact that sunburns increase the risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to studies the risk of melanoma is more than doubled doubled in people with a history of sunburn compared with people who have never been sunburned.
The survey, which saw responses from 1,018 people, also found that 96 per cent people fail to check their skin the recommended once a month for skin cancer, and more than 77 per cent would not recognise signs of the disease.
Rising Skin Cancer Rates
According to a study presented in September 2014 at the World Congress on Cancers of the Skin in Edinburgh, Scotland the number of hospital admissions for skin cancer treatment in England has increased by 41 per cent in the space of just five years. Translating this into real numbers, figures rose significantly from 87,685 admissions in English hospitals in 2007 to 123,808 in 2011.
“Rising skin cancer rates are a major health concern for the UK, and some dermatology departments are stretched to capacity trying to keep up with cases”, said Charlotte Proby, Professor of Dermatology at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, and Chair of the British Association of Dermatologists’ Skin Cancer Prevention Committee.
Proby added that though many people in the UK are aware about the dangers of sunburns, this awareness is yet to “translate into a culture of sun protection and skin checking”, which holds the potential of great impact on the overall problem by reducing the incidence and deaths from this disease.
“As summer comes around again we want people to consider the message that you can enjoy the warm weather whilst staying safe, Proby appealed.
Some of the other findings of the survey
- 84 per cent are worried about skin cancer in the UK climate
- 88 per cent don’t think skin cancer is any easier to remove than other cancers
- 95 per cent know skin cancer rates in the UK are still rising
- 40 per cent never check their skin for signs of skin cancer; 36 per cent check their skin infrequently; 6 per cent once a year; 4 per cent once a month and 6% four times a year.
- 77 per cent do not feel confident that they could recognise signs of a melanoma.
- 81 per cent do not feel confident that they could recognise signs of a non-melanoma skin cancer.
Sun Protection Tips
Considering that sunburned people are at more than double risk of melanoma, staying away from the Sun or protection from sunlight goes miles in keeping you safe. There are some of the tips that will help you stay protected:
- Try and spend time in the shade during the sunniest part of the day – usually between 11 AM and 3 PM in the summer months.
- Avoid direct sun exposure for babies and very young children.
- When it is not possible to stay out of the sun, keeping yourself well covered, with a hat, T-shirt, and sunglasses can give you additional protection.
- Apply sunscreen liberally to exposed areas of skin. Re-apply every two hours and straight after swimming or towelling in order to maintain protection.