Warning: Sunshine Ahead
For most of us, spending time outside on a warm, sunny day makes us feel happier and healthier. However, sunshine also comes with a very serious health warning, as GP and TV medic Dr Hilary Jones explains.
“If you get sunburned once every two years, your risk of developing melanoma skin cancer roughly trebles compared to people who have never had sunburn,” says Dr Jones. “Skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. There are almost 17,000 new cases of melanoma skin cancer and almost 2,300 preventable deaths every year, and these numbers are steadily rising.
“In addition,” he continues, “there’s a positive link between lifetime sun exposure and skin ageing – 80% of the visible signs of ageing are caused by sun exposure. And research shows that when ageing caused by the sun is coupled with chronological ageing, it’s double jeopardy for our skin. This is because both types of ageing damage the collagen and elastin that supports skin cells and keeps skin supple.”
And it’s not only when on holiday abroad that we need to take care in the sun. New research by skincare specialists Hada Labo Tokyo found that nine out of 10 women admit they have underestimating the strength of the sun in the UK, four out of five have suffered a bout of sunburn as a result and two-thirds of these women suffered sunburn despite applying sunscreen.
“Too many of us don’t apply enough sunscreen, don’t apply it early enough and over-estimate the level of protection it provides,” warns Dr Jones. “Millions are spent on awareness campaigns yet there continues to be a potentially lethal gap between awareness and actions.”