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Not Even Skin Cancer Threat Deters Some Sun Seekers (Reuters)...It accounts for roughly 10 percent of reported cases and spreads rapidly throughout the body forming secondary tumors in the liver, lungs, bones or brain....- Apr 24 8:38 PM ET


Posted on: 04/24/2001

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Tuesday April 24 8:38 PM ET
"Not Even Skin Cancer Threat Deters Some Sun Seekers" Not Even Skin Cancer Threat Deters Some Sun Seekers

By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) - Some people are so determined to look good that not even the threat of skin cancer can deter them from seeking a perfect tan, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

Firm in the belief that a suntan makes them look healthy and attractive, they are willing to risk premature aging and cancer in their quest for that bronzed glow.

Fourteen percent of Britons who were questioned for a poll commissioned by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) said they would still want a suntan even after experiencing personal worries about potential skin cancer.

"I'm concerned about how desperate some people are for a tan," said Dr. Charlotte Proby, a dermatologist at the ICRF, a leading cancer research charity.

"A suntan shows that the skin is being damaged by too much sunlight and is trying to protect itself. Sun-seeking behavior and inadequate sun protection increases the risk of the skin being sunburned and this damage will increase the risk of developing skin cancer."

Only 18 percent of the 1,000 people who took part in the poll said they did not like having a tan. About three-quarters of both men and women prefer the sun-kissed look.

Nearly half said they spend their holidays in hot climates to get a tan but 68 percent said they believe the sun can damage the skin. Only a quarter associated suntans with wealth.

Despite increased awareness about the dangers of skin cancer, which strikes 44,000 Britons each year and kills about 2,000, a quarter of 15-24 year-olds use only a low factor sunscreen and 14 percent admitted using no protection against the sun's harmful rays.

Most Common Cancer Death In Young People

Skin cancer is the most common cause of death by cancer among young people aged 25-20 year-olds. The number of deaths due to the disease has risen by about 50 percent in all age groups over the past 15 years.

Melanoma is the most deadly of the three forms of the disease and also the rarest. It accounts for roughly 10 percent of reported cases and spreads rapidly throughout the body forming secondary tumors in the liver, lungs, bones or brain.

Basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of the illness, is usually curable if treated early. Squamous cell carcinoma, is less common, but like melanoma it can spread quickly.

To avoid skin cancer doctors advise people to protect themselves from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays with a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Hats and sunglasses are also recommended.

People should also avoid sunbathing between 11 in the morning and three in the afternoon when the sun is the strongest.

The appearance of new moles on the skin or changes in size, shape or color of existing moles, or any oozing, crusting or bleeding, should be reported to a doctor.

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