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Young Brits’ risky sun habits could increase risk of skin cancer

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by Cancer Research UK | News

31 August 2012

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More than a third of 16-24 year olds admit to risky behaviour in the sun, according to a new survey from Cancer Research UK’s Made in the Shade campaign.

The results showed that 35 per cent plan to use sunbeds, tanning oils, only apply sunscreen when they start to burn, let their skin burn in the hope that it will eventually go brown or don’t intend to wear any sunscreen at all in strong sun this summer.

The bad weather we’ve seen this year has also impacted on young people’s behaviour, as almost a quarter (23 per cent) plan to spend less time in the shade when the sun eventually appears than they did last summer.

The YouGov poll, which surveyed 2,124 UK adults of all ages, brings to light some worrying insights into how young people are behaving in the sun.

More than a quarter of young people (27 per cent) say that they would spend at least an hour in strong sun without protecting their skin, which for many people, especially those with fair skin, could increase their risk of sunburn.  And just one in five (20 per cent) only plan to first apply sunscreen when they start to get sunburnt or their skin starts to feel sore.

Everyone needs some sun to keep their bones healthy, but for many, especially those with fair skin, spending prolonged periods of time in strong sun could increase their risk of sunburn. Sunburn is the body’s response to the damage caused by too much UV, and getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. You can help protect your skin and reduce your chances of getting sunburn by using shade, clothing and sunscreen when the sun is strong.

Cancer Research UK’s Made in the Shade campaign is making the shade a ‘cool’ spot to hang out when the sun is at its strongest, by asking young people to get creative while enjoying the sun safely.

To enter the Made in the Shade competition, simply upload a piece of content that represents your ‘Spirit of Summer’ at The best entries (selected by a panel of top figures from the creative industries) can win amazing prizes including the chance to perform at Nova Festival 2013 and a top quality SLR camera.

Yinka Ebo, Senior Health Information Officer at Cancer Research UK, comments:

“With all of the unpredictable weather we’re experiencing this summer it’s key that when the sun does shine, you don’t get caught out by sunburn. Some people may want to spend hours in the sun desperate to catch the rays when they do eventually appear, but this may come at a price.  As well as the pain that getting sunburnt can cause, it’s also a sign that your skin has been damaged, which can lead to premature ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer.

“We want people to see hanging out in the shade with their mates as THE place to be this summer. You can enjoy the sun safely without causing long-term damage to your skin.”

Get creative this summer with Made in the Shade Competition closes 10th September.


For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8315.