Despite skin cancer being on the rise, a new survey from Macmillan Cancer Support revealed that 40 per cent of people were prepared to burn their skin in the sun on purpose to “deepen” a tan.
The UK-wide poll surveyed 1,000 men and women and reveals a quarter (25 per cent) felt that burning was the only way they could get a tan, rising to 46 per cent of respondents in the North and Scotland. Yet more than 90 per cent were aware sunburn can cause skin cancer.
A reformed sun worshipper who was diagnosed twice with skin cancer is now among those helping the charity to warn others to take precautions.
Ann Ashton, 72, from Rotherham was diagnosed with skin cancer for the second time in 2010 as a result of years spent unprotected in the sun during her youth.
“In my teenage years I used to go on holiday with a big group of friends. We’d cover ourselves in olive oil and vinegar and spend all day sunbathing. I was blonde and fair skinned too, so I’d burn, but we didn’t know anything about skin cancer in those days. It’s only when it happens to you that you sit up and take notice of it. Now I’m really careful.”
She is using her experience to help other people affected by cancer through volunteering at the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Rotherham Hospital.
As well as helping people access information, she offers emotional support and goes out into the community as part of Macmillan’s outreach work.
Judy Duddridge had never much cared for tanning – so when she was diagnosed with skin cancer it came as a bolt from the blue.
The 45-year-old mother-of-three from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, first noticed a blemish between her eyebrows six years ago.
Ms Duddridge was diagnosed with skin cancer and underwent a day procedure to remove the affected area. She believes her skin cancer had it origins in her childhood growing up in Dubai.
“In those days we didn’t think much about sun protection,” she said. “I certainly wasn’t sunbathing or anything like that. I just had a very outdoorsy lifestyle of sailing, cycling and things like that.”
Macmillan Cancer Support is warning that getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of skin cancer.
The number of people diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is on the rise with around 35 people diagnosed every day.