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Three quarters of Britons confused by sun warnings

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by Cancer Research UK | News

23 May 2005

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Britons are missing vital weather warnings that could help reduce their risk of skin cancer. New figures show more than 70% of people questioned in a special survey* do not know what the UV Index is – despite its frequent appearance on TV weather forecasts and websites.

The results of the survey, commissioned by Boots to support Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign, are being released on the first day of Sun Awareness Week to highlight the importance of knowing your skin type and when to protect yourself from burning in the sun to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

To help people understand what the UV Index means to them, Boots and Cancer Research UK have created a Celebrity UV Guide, using star skin types as a guide to when people should cover up.

Celebrity Skin Type

When should you cover up in the summer 11am-3pm?

Very fair, burns easily e.g. Renee Zellweger, Kelly Osbourne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives), Ewan McGregor, Rhys Ifans, Prince Harry UV Index 2-3 and higher
Fair but tans e.g.Colleen McLoughlin, Sienna Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives), Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, David Beckham UV Index 3 and higher
Olive or brown e.gJennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz, Laila Rouass, Parminder Nagra, Eva Longoria and Jesse Metcalf (Desperate Housewives), Amir Kahn, Ronaldo UV Index 5 and higher
Black e.g Naomi Campbell, June Sarpong, Venus and Serena Williams, Will Smith, Lemar, Denzel Washington UV Index 6 and higher

People with fair skin need to protect themselves from burning between 11am and 3pm on days with a lower UV Index rating, compared to people with darker skins, who are advised to cover up when the rating is higher. However, 73 per cent of people with fair skin, who are most at risk of sunburn and skin cancer, admit they still get sun burnt, despite almost two thirds worrying it could lead to skin cancer.

Manager of the SunSmart campaign, Jo Viner Smith says; “These results are quite alarming, especially following the warnings issued recently that we may be in for heatwave this summer.

It is particularly worrying that over 70% of people with very fair skin, who are most at risk of skin cancer, do not know what the UV Index is. Fair skinned people can burn in as little as 30 minutes when the UV Index is seven and it is important they take extra care at all times of the day when the UV Index is high. With more than 70,000 new cases registered each year, it is crucial people know when to cover up.”

Checking the UV Index on the weather forecast in the summer is an easy way to know what to prepare for during the hours of 11 to 3 – whether to head for the shade and pack the sunhat and factor 15.”

Boots suncare consultants in stores across the country can provide advice on individual skin types and how to be safer in the sun. Information is also available at Boots Advantage Card kiosks and at Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart website


For further media information contact the Cancer Research UK Press Office on 020 7061 8320

*Survey by NOP world between the dates 29 April and May 1st 2005, conducted over the telephone among 1000 adults aged 15+. Results were weighted in order to make them nationally representative.