10 August 2007

UK sunbathers cautioned

United Kingdom holidaymakers were warned to protect themselves in the sun and to avoid getting burnt as figures show skin cancer is the fastest growing form of cancer in Britain.

Holidaymakers in the United Kingdom (UK) were warned on Thursday to protect themselves in the sun and to avoid getting burnt after figures revealed skin cancer has become the fastest growing form of cancer in Britain.

Cases of the most dangerous form, melanoma, rose by 43 percent to 8 939 during the past decade, figures released by Cancer Research UK showed.

The cancer is caused mainly by heavy exposure to UV radiation in sunlight, and since the mid-1980s rates have doubled in women and tripled in men.

"We're very concerned that cases of malignant melanoma are spiralling," said Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of health information. "Most cases of this disease could be prevented if people protected themselves in the sun and took care not to burn." p>There has been a rise in similar so-called lifestyle cancers during the same period. This is most probably due to excessive drinking, smoking and eating, the charity said.

The number of newly diagnosed cases of mouth cancer, caused largely by smoking or chewing tobacco and regular drinking, rose 23 percent between 1995 and 2004 to 4 769 cases.

Smoking, obesity major causes
Womb cancer, blamed partly on obesity, rose 21 percent to 6 438 cases, and kidney cancer, caused mainly by smoking and being overweight, rose 14 percent to 7 044.

Lucy Morrish, who compiled the figures for Cancer Research UK, said, "While incidence rates for some cancers have fallen over the past decade, others are rising and many of these cases could be prevented if people avoided excessive sun exposure, smoking and obesity and limited their alcohol intake."

Half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle, the charity said.

High-profile publicity campaigns and national screening programmes helped reduce the rates of cervical and lung cancer during the same period.

Cases of cervical cancer dropped 24 percent to 2 726 and lung cancer by 14 percent to 38 313. - (ReutersHealth, August 2007)

Read more:
UV may be key to cancer
Most sunscreens not safe


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules