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Sun awareness



VOL: 100, ISSUE: 22, PAGE NO: 33


- Excessive exposure to sunlight is implicated in skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin.



- In the UK there are 69,000 cases of skin cancer each year (Cancer Research UK, 2004).



- The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV radiation, either from the sun or from artificial sources.



- The incidence of skin cancer is increasing in the UK population year on year.



- Part of the reason may be our changing lifestyles, for example more people are sunbathing and taking holidays in hot climates.



- Sunlight contains both UVA and UVB radiation.



- Exposure to UVB increases the risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.



- UVB is responsible for sunburn.



- Exposure to UVA causes ageing of the skin.



- There is concern that UVA increases the risk of malignant melanoma.



There is a classification system for skin types based on a person’s complexion and responses to sun exposure.



- Type I: Very sensitive, always burns, easily goes very red in sunlight, never tans;



- Type II: Very sensitive, always burns, goes red after sunlight, minimal tan after;



- Type III: Sensitive, burns moderately, goes red, tans gradually with a light tan;



- Type IV: Moderately sensitive, rarely goes red, tans easily, goes brown;



- Type V: Minimally sensitive, rarely burns, goes brown always, develops a dark brown tan;



- Type VI: Never burns, always deeply pigmented, dark tan.



- 2004 is the second year of Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign, which is a joint initiative with the government.



- The campaign is based around a five-point SunSmart message, to help people remember how to be safer in the sun and protect against skin cancer.



- Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm.



- Make sure you never burn.



- Always cover up with a T-shirt, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.



- Remember to take extra care with children.



- Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.



- Apply sun lotion at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun.



- Reapply it every two hours.



- Reapply sunscreen immediately after swimming.



- Sunscreens are rated with an SPF. These refer to how long skin covered with sunscreen takes to burn compared with unprotected skin. For example, skin covered with a sunscreen rated at SPF15 will take 15 times longer to burn than bare skin.



- Because SPF factors only look at burning times, they apply only to UVB rays.



- In future sunscreens may also include better protection against UVA radiation.



- Patients should be advised not to stay out in the sun longer when using a sunscreen - in the belief that their skin is protected - as this increases their exposure to UVA.



- Experts still stress the need to use sunscreen but warn people not to rely solely on it.



Skin types - find out yours:



SunSmart campaign:

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