Socialite and TV presenter Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Chemmy Alcott, leading member of the British Land Alpine Ski Team, have joined forces to back Cancer Research UK’s winter SunSmart campaign.

The charity is warning that skiers and snowboarders are putting themselves at increased risk of skin cancer this winter if they do not cover up on the slopes.

“It’s important to realise that you can burn just as easily on the ski slopes as on a beach in the Caribbean,” says Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. “I’ve been skiing all my life, and Klosters, where I go every winter, is like a home from home. It can have brilliant sunshine so I always make sure I take wraparound shades and a tube of sunscreen in my pocket when I head for the slopes.”

Top-ranked British skier Chemmy Alcott, positioned in the top 30 in the world, is well aware of the dangers of UV radiation in the mountains. “Even when it’s cold on the ski slopes, the sun can still damage your skin,” she warns. “As the snow reflects UV rays, it’s so easy to get burnt when you’re skiing, especially in odd places like under your chin and on your ears. I always try to cover up as much as possible and wear a high factor sunscreen to protect any part of my body that is left exposed.”

Skiers and snowboarders also need to be aware that the higher the altitude, the greater the risk to their skin. “The higher skiers and snowboarders go, the greater their risk of serious sunburn because there is less atmosphere to filter the UV rays,” explains Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK. “Children and young people are particularly at risk because their skin is more delicate and therefore more vulnerable.”

There are other reasons why skiers and snowboarders are at increased risk. Snow reflects 85 per cent of the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can then hit the body at odd angles, meaning that winter sports people can be burnt in unusual areas, such as under the chin. This can even occur when there is dappled sunlight in forested areas.

The number of cases of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, have risen sharply over the last five years. There are almost 7000 cases of malignant melanoma diagnosed in the UK each year and it is the second most common cancer in young people between 15 and 29 years old.

For further information log onto the SunSmmart website


For media enquiries and interview requests contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300


Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign, which is a joint initiative with the UK Health Departments, is now in its second year of raising awareness of how to be safer in the sun and protect against skin cancer.

To be safe in the sun this winter, you should:

  • Cover as much of your body with clothing as much as you can – this is the best way of protecting your skin by blocking out the sun’s UV rays. Try wearing a long-sleeved jacket with a zip-up collar, hat, gloves, and a good quality pair of wrap-around sunglasses or goggles.
  • Apply sunscreen of at least factor 15 to all exposed skin. Apply this generously before going outside. Re-apply every two hours or more frequently if it is rubbed or washed off (eg after sweating).
  • Wear a sunblock on very exposed and sun-sensitive areas like your nose, ears and lips.
  • Check that your sunglasses or goggles offer at least 99 per cent protection from UV – most will have information on their UV filtering capability, but check if you are not sure.