Skin cancer cases have soared seven-fold in the past 40 years, Daily Mail reports.
The shock rise is blamed on the legacy of sunshine package holidays, which became popular in the 1960s.
Many of the patients being diagnosed today suffered cancer-causing sunburn in their youth, experts said yesterday.
And they warned the continuing obsession with sporting a tan would mean the toll keeps rising. Sunbeds were singled out for criticism for fuelling the huge increase in all types of skin cancer, especially among young women.
New figures from Cancer Research UK show that more than 13,000 people a year develop malignant melanoma – the most deadly type of skin cancer. The total is expected to surge to 20,000 a year by 2027. In 1975 the figure was just 1,800. Malignant melanoma has become the fifth most common cancer in Britain, killing more than 2,000 people a year.
It is also the most common cancer in women in their 20s.
If caught early, it is treatable. If it spreads, even chemotherapy has little effect.
Nick Ormiston-Smith, head of statistics at Cancer Research UK, said, “Since the mid-1970s, malignant melanoma incidence rates in the UK have increased more rapidly than any of today’s ten most common cancers. Holidays in hot climates have become more affordable and sunbeds are more widely available since the 1970s. But we know overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. This means, in many cases, the disease can be prevented, and is why it’s essential to get into good sun safety habits, whether at home or abroad. The good news for those that are diagnosed, is that survival for the disease is among the highest for any cancer, more than eight in ten people will now survive it.”
Better detection methods may also have contributed to increasing rates, he added.
Experts believe the toll from sunbed use is likely to increase because cancer takes several years to develop and young people continue to ignore health warnings. French researchers found the risk of developing malignant melanoma increased by 20 per cent for those who had used an indoor tanning device – and doubled for those using sunbeds before the age of 35.
Avoiding sunburn is the best way of cutting the risk of melanoma.
Those at highest risk include people with pale skin, lots of moles or freckles, a history of sunburn or a family history of the disease. Cancers caused by unhealthy lifestyles, such as drinking and smoking, have seen a rise of up to two thirds in the last decade, according to official figures.
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