Skin Cancer Rate Soars Amongst the Young

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Recent reports state that there is a potential time bomb regarding the health of Britain's youth. Is this down to a rise in cheap holidays and the national obsession with sun beds?

The incidence of the disease rises with age but there is some evidence that in the over-30s it has hit a plateau. However, in the 15 to 29 age group it is increasing at a faster rate. The message is sun protection. Use a sunscreen but, even more important, cover up and keep out of the midday sun.

Some experts say that getting sunburnt just once in your life is enough to significantly increase your chances of developing skin cancer. Self tanning, or fake tan, products have long been marketed as a safe alternative. New products like Fake Bake have overcome the synthetic look of the original fake tan products. This new breed of treatments provides the look of a real tan without any of the associated risks.

Whether it is the intense exposure to sunlight on the annual family holiday or the increasingly powerful beds at the local tanning salon, the rates of malignant melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, among the young have risen dramatically.

The increasing number of foreign holidays and almost universal access to sun beds has driven an increase in cases of skin cancer. It is currently responsible for around 2000 deaths a year.

The likelihood of developing skin cancer rises as the individual ages until it peaks around 35-40. The rate of cancer is starting to increase in people a lot younger than this.

"The incidence of the disease rises with age but there is some evidence that in the over-30s it has hit a plateau. However, in the 15 to 29 age group it is increasing at a faster rate. The message is sun protection. Use a sunscreen but, even more important, cover up and keep out of the midday sun." Professor Jillian Birch, an expert on teenage cancer from Manchester University said recently"

Sunburn is the main trigger for skin cancer and intermittent sun exposure increases the likelihood of the individual developing skin cancer at some point in the future. This intermittent exposure aligns with the fact that people take one or two holidays a year.
The British are well known for spending long periods of time in the sun simply to get a tan. This is usually done with the knowledge that they will burn. This reckless attitude is responsible for a 40% increase in cases of melanoma in recent years.

Although still a cause for concern, sun beds are the safer option when compared to the sun. This has led to a measurable difference in cases of skin cancer between affluent groups and poorer groups. Of the 1000 cases of cancer from 2000 to 2006, the incidence of cancer among the affluent group was almost double that of the poorer group.

This further re-enforces the dangers of frequent exposure to intense sun light.

There is some evidence that the expert's advice is being taken. The self tanning market is booming with self tanning products one of the highest selling skin care products available. Fake Bake is one of a number of the new generation of self tanning products. These new products incorporate various technologies that apparently emulate natural tanning. The self tanning industry is working hard to shake the common criticism of the artificial looking tan that older self tanning products gave.

It seems that a safe tan is becoming more and more desirable. However, it remains to be seen if this attitude will spread to the serious sun worshippers. Until then we can expect the rates of skin cancer to continue rising.

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Andrew Heaps

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