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'Tanning culture' leads to rise in skin cancer

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The deadliest form of skin cancer is around five times more likely to emerge in people in their 60s and 70s than it was in their parents 30 years ago, a study has revealed.

Malignant melanoma has seen the biggest rise in that age range over the last three decades, from seven cases per 100,000 in the mid 1970s, to 36 per 100,000 in 2004-06.

Many older people suffering from skin cancer would have enjoyed cheap package holidays in the 1970s when sunburn rather than just a suntan was common and sunbeds first arrived in the UK, said Cancer Research UK, which released the analysis.

The most dramatic rise in malignant melanoma has been among men in their 60s and 70s. They are now more than seven times as likely to be diagnosed with the disease than in the 1970s.

Launching the 2010 SunSmart campaign for Cancer Research UK, Caroline Cerny said: “A change in the culture of tanning including the explosion of cheap package holidays and the introduction of sunbeds in the 70s means we’re now seeing alarming rates of melanoma for an entire age group.”

Caroline Cerny, Cancer Research UK

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