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You don't need to redden skin to get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D builds and maintains strong bones and our body produces it when our skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun.

Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, but it is also the main cause of skin cancer. The amount needed is different for everyone but most can get enough vitamin D from exposure to sun running day-to-day errands.

You shouldn’t have to redden or burn your skin to make enough vitamin D.

The risks of using sunbeds

Sunbeds give out UV rays which damage skin and can make it look wrinkled, older or leathery, according to Cancer Research UK.

The UV rays from sunbeds can also damage the DNA in skin cells, and over time this damage can build up to cause skin cancer. Sunbeds can sometimes be marketed as a ‘controlled way’ of getting a ‘safer tan’.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees there is sufficient evidence to show using sunbeds causes malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

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Skin cancer: Who is most at risk?

Cancer Research UK is warning people to be careful with sunbeds and sunny weather.

Who is the most at risk of skin cancer?

  • Fair skin
  • Moles or freckles
  • Red or fair hair
  • Light coloured eyes
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • History of sunburn

If you have naturally brown or black skin you are much less likely to develop skin cancer. This is because people with naturally brown or black skin have more melanin pigment in their cells. This helps protect the skin from damaging UV rays.

Sunbeds 'main cause of skin cancer'

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East, said it is important for people in the region to avoid sunburn as figures show the number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer is increasing.

“We know overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. This means, in many cases, the disease can be prevented so it’s essential to get into good sun safety habits, whether at home or abroad.

“One of the best ways people can reduce their risk of malignant melanoma is to avoid getting sunburn. We know that those with the highest risk of the disease include people with pale skin, lots of moles or freckles, a history of sunburn or a family history of the disease.

“Sadly more and more people in the North East are being diagnosed with malignant melanoma each year."

– Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East

Why skin cancer rates are rising

Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK and more than 2,000 people die from it each year. The number of people being diagnosed in the North East region as trebled.

Rates have been increasing since the 1970s and they are now five times higher than they were 40 years ago nationally.

The rise is partly down to package holidays to Europe dating from the late 60s and the increasing popularity of being tanned. The boom in sunbed use has also fueled the increase in skin cancer and better detection methods may also have contributed.

Skin cancer rates treble in the North East

Skin cancer rates have tripled in the North East over the last 20 years. The number of people diagnosed with malignant melanoma has increased, new figures from Cancer Research UK reveal.

The results are released as Cancer Research UK launches a campaign to encourage people to enjoy the sun safely this summer.

The latest rates show 15 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the North East annually. This is compared to four per 100,000 in the early 90s. This equates to around 450 people now developing malignant melanoma in the North East every year.

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Skin cancer rates 'five times higher than in 1970s'

Skin cancer rates have soared since the seventies, Cancer Research UK says.
Skin cancer rates have soared since the seventies, Cancer Research UK says. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Rates of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, are five times higher in the UK than they were in the 1970s, new figures show.

More than 13,000 people are now developing the disease each year compared about 1,800 in 1975.

The dramatic rise is partly down to the huge increase in package holidays to sunny European destinations, a boom in sunbed use, and the fashion for a "healthy" tan, according to Cancer Research UK which released the figures.

However, survival rates for the disease are among the highest for any cancer, with more than eight in 10 people now surviving it, the charity says.

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