Younger generation disregards sun exposure risk

People aged 16 to 30 have the worst attitude towards protecting their skin in the sun, despite melanoma being the second most common cancer in this age group, according to a study published by the British Association of Dermatologists.

The research, covering 1,000 people over a two-month period, found that this age group was significantly more likely to get sunburned and less likely to avoid midday sun exposure or to cover up in the sun compared with older age groups.

The age group also reported the highest levels of sun exposure, with 54% heading out into the sun daily, compared with 44% of 31- to 45-year-olds, 48% of 45- to 60-year-olds and 50% of the over-60s.

A total of 17% of 16- to 30-year-olds admitted to never avoiding the sun during its peak hours (11am to 3pm) compared with 9% of 31- to 45-year-olds, 6% of 46- to 60-year-olds and 7% of over-60s.

Alarmingly, young people with either a personal history of skin cancer, or a member of the family who has suffered from the disease, were no less likely to expose their skin to the sun or to sunburn than those without any personal or family history of skin cancer.

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “It is a real worry that this age group is still either ignorant of, or choosing to ignore, sun safety messages. We definitely need to look more at what will help encourage young people to adhere to anti-sunburn advice.”

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