More sunny weather raises skin cancer risk

  • Date: 15 May 2023

OVER half (56 per cent) of young people (age 18 to 34) in the UK reported at least one case of sunburn in 2022, increasing the risk of future skin cancer.

This is a key finding of a survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD).

The survey found that 40 per cent of people overall suffered at least one sunburn in the year 2022, which saw between a third and half of days in most of the UK having a maximum UV index of at least 3, the level at which sun protection is recommended for people with lighter skin tones.

Just over three-quarters of people (76 per cent) said that they would spend at least some time in the sun on a sunny day if not working, and 29 per cent would aim to sunbathe at least some of the time, with 7 per cent saying that they would sunbathe as much as possible.

But 57 per cent of people said they would either rarely or never check the UV index (risk of sun damage), with only 19 per cent of people often or always checking it.

Professor Mabs Chowdhury, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “While 2022 was an extraordinarily hot and sunny year, the reality is that these extreme weather events are becoming more common. In some parts of the UK almost half the days last year had a peak UV index at or above the level at which sun protection is recommended for people with lighter skin tones. A mentality shift amongst the British public in terms of our behaviour in the sun is sorely needed.

“We are already reaping what we have sown with years of complacency when it comes to excessive sun exposure; skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with more than a quarter of a million cases a year. One in five people in this country will develop skin cancer in their lifetime – pretty grim odds.

“I would urge everyone to check the UV index as a matter of course, particularly between April and September. If it is at 3 or above then I would urge people, particularly those with lighter skin tones, to take sun protection precautions. That means making use of shade, wearing clothing which will shade your skin, and using sunscreen that is at least SPF 30.”

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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