Skin cancer knowledge lacking in people

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Pale skinned people who are most at risk of skin cancer are ignoring sun safety advice, according to research released to launch Sun Awareness Week 2009.

The survey of 1500 UK adults revealed that less than half (45%) of people with skin type 1 or 2 – pale skin which easily sunburns and is at the greatest risk of skin cancer – always use a sunscreen when out in the sun.

Three quarters (75%) of those who took part in the survey sunbathe to get a tan. Of particular concern, half (50%)of those with skin types 1 or 2 sunbathe. These skin types, who sunburn rapidly and should always use sun protection on sunny days, are strongly advised against sunbathing.

Worryingly, over a third (39%) of people who have skin types 1 or 2 admitted to having used sunbeds.

However, 30 percent of naturally dark skinned people who never sunburn said that they always wear sunscreen in sunny weather. These people could be putting themselves at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Rebecca Freeman of the British Association of Dermatologists explains: “This research shows that people with different skin types are not always protecting their skin to the appropriate level. There seems to be some confusion around which skin types need to take most care in the sun and which need minimal protection.

“Pale skin types are at the highest risk of skin cancer, but our survey shows that these people sunbathe, use sunbeds, and don’t always use sunscreen in the sun. However, naturally dark skinned people, such as African-Caribbean or dark Asian skin types, only really need to protect their skin in intense sunshine and during prolonged sun exposure.

Early detection is essential in the treatment of skin cancer; however an alarming two thirds (63%) of people never check their skin for changes that might indicate a skin cancer.

The British Association of Dermatologists’ Sun Awareness campaign aims to educate people on ?early detection’ of skin cancer, and where to seek help if you have any concerns about your skin.

Survey summary:

– Only 45% of people with skin types 1 or 2 always use a sunscreen in the sun
– 75% sunbathe and 50% of those with skin types 1 or 2 sunbathe
– 39% of skin types 1 or 2 have used sunbeds
– 30% of those with naturally dark skin who never sunburn always use sunscreen in the sun
– 85% of participants had a mole that was of particular concern, 67% of them had never seen a doctor about the mole before
– 63% never check their skin for changes
– 25% of those who never or rarely use sunscreen regularly sunbathe
– 15% of those who use sunscreen only use a low protection product. Only 27% use high protection.

Source: British Association of Dermatologists, UK

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