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Skin cancer risk from cheap holidays

1st April 2010

Cancer Research UK has warned that the advent of cheap package holidays in the 1970s led to a "generational shift" in the rates of deadly skin cancer.

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It says that people now in their 60s and 70s are more than five times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma than their parents were, with men in this age group now seven times more likely to get the disease than they were in the 1970s.

Cancer Research UK fears the rates of malignant melanoma will rise even further.

The warning comes as the charity launches its annual SunSmart campaign to encourage people to use sun protection.

The worst affected age-group, which would have been among the first to take advantage of the cheap holiday explosion, now have 36 cases of malignant melanoma per 100,000 compared with seven per 100,000 in the mid-1970s.

Cancer Research UK SunSmart manager Caroline Cerny said: "A change in the culture of tanning including the explosion of cheap package holidays and the introduction of sunbeds in the seventies means we're now seeing alarming rates of melanoma for an entire age group.

"Today the problem threatens to get worse as teenagers continue to crave a tan on the beach and top it up cheaply on sunbeds.

"Already skin cancer is predicted to become the fourth most common cancer for men and for women in the UK by 2024."

ABTA figures show that in 1970 some 2.7 million people from the UK went on package holidays abroad. In 2008 that figure was 18.5 million.

 

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