Two-fifths of people (40%) say they burn their skin in the sun on purpose to ‘deepen’ a tan, according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support1. This is despite the fact that getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of skin cancer (melanoma)2. The UK-wide poll surveyed 1,000 men and women and reveals that a quarter (25%) felt that burning in the sun was the only way they could get a tan – yet over 90% were aware that sunburn can cause skin cancer.
People in the Midlands and Wales are 30% more likely than people in the North and Scotland to burn in the sun in order to tan3.
The poll also showed that young people (aged 18-35) were found to be more than twice as likely as their parents (aged 55+) to believe that burning in the sun will result in getting a tan quicker.
After the long, cold winter one in ten (10%) were planning to sunbathe in the UK without sun tan lotion – which could be putting their lives at risk. Men are almost twice as likely as women to not use any sun tan lotion.
The number of people diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, in the UK is on the rise with around 35 people being diagnosed every day4.
Judy Duddridge, 45, Cambridgeshire, skin cancer survivor, says:
‘I spent many years living in Dubai so I was always in and out of the sun with little protection. I was very unaware of the damage that too much sun and getting burnt could do. I thought I was just living my life normally.
‘My cancer was between my eyebrows and left me with a nasty scar and made me self conscious. It’s so important to be sun aware, never to burn and always wear and top up with sunscreen.’
Carol Goodman, Skin Cancer Nurse Specialist on the Macmillan Support Line, says:
‘This new research shows that despite being aware of the health risks people are still burning themselves in the sun in order to get a tan. As we start to look forward to summer after one of the coldest winters yet, it is alarming that staying safe in the sun is not a priority for many people.
‘Sunburn will cause serious damage to your skin which can lead to cancer. A diagnosis of malignant melanoma can be just as fatal as some other cancers. It is vital to protect your skin when out in the sun by using sun tan lotion, wearing sun protective clothing (including hats and sunglasses) or staying in the shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm.”