Sunshine, Sunscreen and Skin cancer; The need to protect your skin.

As we start to experience the warmer weather, people around the UK are organising outings and visits to local beaches and parks. The sunnier weather lifts our spirits and melts away the gloom of winter.

Many of us are planning our summer holidays with great excitement and children want to abandon the x-box and play outside.

However, the dangers of sun exposure and the failure to use the correct sunscreen, was again recently highlighted in a report by Cancer UK. It would seem that as a result of cheap package holidays in the 60’s and 70’s, men aged over 65 are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma that the previous generation.

In the UK, over 5,000 pensioners are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. This is an alarming statistic given that the figure was only 600 in the mid 1970’s and it is poignant reminder of the need to protect against the sun’s harmful rays.

Commenting on the report, Carlos Lopez, Head of the Clinical Negligence team at Vincents Solicitors commented “ At this time of year its important that everyone, but especially the elderly and young children are fully protected against the sun’s harmful rays by using a high factor sunscreen. Even on slightly cloudy days, the sun can cause damage. Medical experts often advise that people should regularly check their body for changes in the skin, particularly moles and freckles. “

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health information, said: "Sun damage accumulates over time so avoiding sunburn - and sunbeds - is key, as well as getting to know your skin type so you don't overdo it on the beach or even in the garden."
There are a number of misconceptions over the use of sunscreen, some of which are highlighted by

1. Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by wearing sunscreen.
Whilst there maybe some discussion amongst scientist and medics, few dermatologists believe that sunscreens cause vitamin D deficiency. Also, vitamin D is available in dietary supplements and foods such as salmon and eggs, as well as enriched milk and orange juice.

2. If it's cold or cloudy outside, you don't need sunscreen.
This is inaccurate. Up to 40 percent of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day. This misperception often leads to the most serious sunburns, because people spend all day outdoors with no protection from the sun.

3. Eighty percent of your sun exposure comes as a child, so it's too late to do anything now.
This is also untrue. A recent multi-center study showed that we get less than 25 percent of our total sun exposure by age 18. In fact, it is men over the age of 40 who spend the most time outdoors, and get the highest annual doses of UV rays.

Carlos Lopez, stated “Its important to apply the sunscreen in the correct way and if you do notice any changes in the skin, to get early advice from your GP. As with all cancers, early detection and treatment is the key to successful treatment. Sadly, according to Cancer UK statistics, over 2,000 people die from skin cancer each year in the UK. “

Further information and videos on how to apply sunscreen can be found on the NHS website