As the latest figures* show that more Britons than ever before will be heading to the sun this winter, Cancer Research UK is issuing a warning to the public to beware of the dangers of the sun.

Skin cancer experts caution that exposing “office skin”, which has been under wraps all autumn, to a sudden burst of binge sunbathing can be a major risk factor for malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of the disease.

Sara Hiom, co-ordinator of Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart initiative, says: “A two week long Caribbean holiday could give the equivalent of a whole year’s sun exposure for an indoor worker in the UK and such short periods of intense exposure to the sun are a major contributing factor for malignant melanoma. It is especially important to remember the SunSmart messages when jetting off to the sun this winter and protect yourself from the harmful UV rays.”

The warning comes on top of a recent survey commissioned for the SunSmart campaign, showing that, while 75 per cent of the 1,850 people questioned were concerned that exposure to the sun could result in skin cancer, less than 30 per cent used shade and less than 40 per cent bothered to apply high factor sunscreen.

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, says: “I am concerned at how desperate some people are for a tan. We know that many people want a year-round tan and consider being bronzed in winter as a status symbol. In fact, a suntan shows that the skin is being damaged by ultra-violet radiation. This damage increases the risk of developing skin cancer.”


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264059.


Follow Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart Code to be safe in the sun this winter:

  • Stay in the shade between 11am-3pm
  • Make sure you never burn
  • Always cover up with a T shirt, wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Remember to take extra care with children
  • Then use factor 15 plus sunscreen.

Also report any mole changes or unusual skin growths promptly to your GP.

To find out more about how to be safer in the sun, visit Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart website

*Figures supplied by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)

Approximately 13 million Britons take a winter holiday (November to April) and the overall growth in such holidays from 1994 – 2002 has been 32 per cent.

Top winter sun destinations are as follows:

  1. Spain (Canary Islands are the most popular)
  2. USA (Florida is the most popular)
  3. Caribbean (growth from 1993-1999 was 98%)
  4. France
  5. Africa, with South Africa top (From 1993 – 1999 89% growth)
  6. Austria
  7. India
  8. Cyprus
  9. Portugal
  10. Thailand