Formerly known as the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund

sun protection against melanoma
Melanoma Facts

Melanoma & The Sun

A Consensus Statement

  • Sunburn should be avoided by individuals of all ages.
  • There is increasing evidence that excessive sun exposure and particularly sunburn when aged under 15 is a major risk factor for skin cancer in later life. Protection of the skin of children and adolescents is therefore particularly important.
  • It is important to realise the cumulative nature of sun induced skin damage. This is of particular relevance to individuals now living in the UK who may have spent part of their lives in a tropical or sub-tropical environment.
  • Sun exposure giving rise to sunburn and subsequent skin damage, can take place in the UK. It is therefore essential to protect the skin of both adults and children in this country, particularly during periods of sunny weather during the spring and early summer.
  • Individuals who develop skin cancer do not always have a history of deliberate sunbathing. Those who have an outdoor occupation and those who have an outdoor recreation, such as golfing, gardening, skiing or sailing, are also at risk and must learn to protect their skin.
  • A four point approach to minimising sun induced skin damage is advised. These points are in descending order of importance:
    1. Avoiding noon day sun (between 11am and 3pm).
    2. Seeking natural shade in the form of trees or other shelter.
    3. The use of UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing as a sunscreen including T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and hats.
    4. The use of broad spectrum sun screen with an SPFof 15 or higher to protect against UVB and with additional UVA protection.
  • There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. A tan is a sign that already damaged skin is trying to protect itself from further damage. The protecting power of a tan is weaker than that of a mild sunscreen of SPF2-4
  • That in at least 4 out of 5 cases, skin cancer is a preventable disease
sun beds cause harmful uv rays

Do not use sunbeds!

Sunbeds are not a safe alternative to lying outside in the sun as skin will still be exposed to harmful UV rays. There are many health risks linked to sunbeds which include:

  • skin cancer
  • premature ageing of skin
  • sunburnt skin
  • dryness and itching
  • bumpy rashes
  • eye irritation
sun beds increase risk of skin cancer

“Using sunbeds before the age of 35 increases your risk of skin cancer by up to 75%,” says Katy Scammell of Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign “they also accelerate the skin’s natural ageing process”

Thankfully, It is now illegal for people under 18 years old to use sunbeds, including in tanning salons, beauty salons, leisure centres, gyms and hotels.

Do not use sunbeds or other UV tanning equipment if:

  • you have been sunburnt in the past, particularly in childhood
  • you have fair skin that burns easily
  • you have a large number of freckles or red hair
  • you have a large number of moles
  • you’re taking medication that makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight
  • anyone in your family has had skin cancer in the past

Further information can be obtained from the Cancer Research UK

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