Over a third of parents in Great Britain admit their child has been sunburnt, despite the majority knowing that over-exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer.

These statistics have been released by Cancer Research UK and Boots, on the day that the charity launches its Kids Cook Quick poster, aimed at parents and carers of young children. This also marks the start of Sun Awareness Week (May 10-16 2004).

The poster, created for Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign, has been designed to highlight how quickly children’s skin can burn in the sun. It features the slogan Kids Cook Quick along with a picture of two sunburnt children sitting on the beach.

The poster is being sent to 19,000 nurseries and all GP surgeries, as well as being displayed in Boots pharmacies nationally.

Sara Hiom, co-ordinator of Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign says, “This poster has been created to help remind parents to protect their children. Our survey shows that just over three-quarters of parents know that it’s never OK for a child to go red in the sun, but they may not always realise that young skin can burn very quickly, in as little as ten minutes. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we can be caught out.

“We hope the Kids Cook Quick slogan will stick in parents’ minds over the summer and remind them to make sure their children are properly protected whenever they are in the sun, by following the SunSmart code. This means seeking shade in the middle of the day, covering up with a hat, t-shirt and sunglasses, as well as using sunscreen that is factor 15 or higher.”

The national survey*, commissioned by Cancer Research UK and Boots, who are supporting the SunSmart campaign, also reveals that forty-one per cent of parents like to see their children with a tan, with the vast majority of these believing that it makes them look more healthy. This is despite high-profile warnings that a suntan is a sign of UV skin damage.

Children’s skin is much more delicate than adults’ and research shows that sunburn in childhood can double the risk of getting skin cancer later in life.

Dr Catherine Harwood, consultant dermatologist for Cancer Research UK comments, “As children have much more opportunity to play and take part in sports and other outdoor activities, they spend far more time in the sun than adults. Babies’ and toddlers’ skin is particularly susceptible as their skin is thinner and produces less protective pigment.

“We get around 80% of our exposure to the sun before the age of 21. So it is vital that parents are aware of the dangers and know how to protect their children properly.”

For more information on SunSmart, visit the SunSmart website.


For further media information contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8320


*Survey conducted by NOP World over the telephone between 23rd – 25th April 2004, amongst 228 adults aged 16+ who are parents of a child aged between 6 months and 12 years old. Weighting was applied to the data to bring it in line with national profiles.

Key SunSmart campaign messages are:

  • 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.

2004 is the second year of Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign, which is a joint initiative with the Government. The campaign is based around a five-point SunSmart message, to help people remember how to be safer in the sun and protect against skin cancer.

This poster is the first of a pair featuring the Kids Cook Quick slogan and is one of several SunSmart resources produced this summer by Cancer Research UK. Materials will also appear in cinemas, schools, universities, FE colleges and clubs and bars in Ibiza.

Around 7,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with malignant melanoma. It usually develops in cells in the outer layer of the skin but can spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma is the third most common cancer among people aged 15-39 and early detection is crucial for successful treatment.

Cancer Research UK has been commissioned to run the nationwide SunSmart skin cancer prevention campaign by the Department of Health together with health departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The SunSmart Campaign is supported by:

  • The UV Health Promotion Group whose members include the British Association of Dermatologists, the UK Skin Cancer Working Party, National Radiological Protection Board, Skin Care Campaign, Wessex Cancer Trust, Health and Safety Executive, Guide Dogs for the Blind. Also backing the campaign are Boots, Homebase, Lloydspharmacy and Craghoppers Ltd.