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Tonight: How Safe is a Sun Tan?

How Safe is a Sun Tan? Thursday 17th August on ITV at 7:30pm Photo: ITV/Tonight

TOO much emphasis on the dangers of skin cancer could be doing serious harm to the public, according to an expert.

Dr Richard Weller is a dermatologist who’s conducting research work at Edinburgh University looking at the benefits of sunshine.

He reckons he’s trying to redress the balance. He told Tonight:

The epidemic we have in Britain at the moment, is obesity and lack of exercise. And by frightening people about the outside, I fear we are making that worse.

– Dr Richard Weller, Edinburgh University
Dr Richard Weller from Edinburgh University believes sun exposure has its benefits Credit: ITV/Tonight

Reporter Kylie Pentelow investigates the advantages and disadvantages of sunshine for the Tonight's: “How Safe is a Sun Tan?”.

Dr Weller reckons that too many experts so far have concentrated on the bad side of sunlight.

Currently he is researching the potential for sunshine to lower high blood pressure.

“You’re about a hundred times more likely to die of a high blood pressure related disease like a stroke or a heart attack than you are of skin cancer,” he tells Kylie.

But he admits there’s a problem.

"We don't have enough evidence, yet, to be able to really weigh up how much sunshine is the ideal amount.”

– Dr. Richard Weller, Edinburgh University
Reporter Kylie Pentelow, with her dad who sadly died of cancer Credit: ITV/Tonight

Every year nearly 150,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer. A large majority survive it - especially when it’s caught early.

But the most lethal form - malignant melanoma - still takes 2,500 lives annually.

Kylie’s dad David died of skin cancer which is why she wanted to make the film.

Kylie meets Linda Rogers who is a self-confessed sun worshipper with a secret.

“I’ve got to admit years ago my skin colour was so brown and my friends had a nickname for me and they called me Melanoma Linda.”

– Linda Rodgers
Linda goes for a body scan to see if she has any atypical moles Credit: ITV/Tonight

Linda goes for a full body scan to see if she has any atypical moles to show for 30 years of sunbathing holidays topped up by regular sunbed use.

She’s relieved that she hasn’t.

But a horrified Linda is given advice that she doesn’t want to hear from Dr Kapil Bhargava, Dermatologist at the London Mole Clinic.

He wants her to replace her low factor sun creams for factor 50. And to use fake or spray on tans rather than sitting out in the sun.

The programme also explodes some sun cream myths with the help of consumer organisation Which?

Nikki Stopford explained that the most expensive SPF factor creams were not always the best value.

She also looked into once a day sunscreens and sunscreen in make-up.

Nikki Stopford from Which? reveals some sun cream tips Credit: ITV/Tonight

See more at 7:30pm on Thursday 17th August on ITV as Kylie Pentelow investigates How Safe is a Sun Tan?

Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #ITVTonight

Websites that may be of interest:

Which? Sun Cream Test

NHS ABCDE of Moles : a slide-guide to checking moles

CANCER RESEARCH UK - Pictures of Abnormal Moles

UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL - Sunscreen Challenge

UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL - Misapplication of sunscreen