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Cancer Research UK says too much UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds can damage the DNA in skin cells. If the DNA builds up enough damage over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, leading to skin cancer.
There are two main types of UV rays. Both types can cause skin cancer - UVB and UVA.
Sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells has been damaged by too much UV radiation. Sunburn doesn’t have to be raw, peeling or blistering. If your skin has gone red in the sun, it’s burnt.
The above video, by Cancer Research UK, explains what happens to skin when it becomes sunburnt.
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.
The number of people diagnosed with skin cancer in Yorkshire has doubled in the last 20 years. Around a thousand people in our region are now developing the disease every year.
Amanda Crosland from Leeds was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2001. Being red-haired and fair skinned, the mum to two daughters has always covered up in the sun. So, when she noticed a new mole, she got it checked out straight away.
A skin cancer survivor described the speed with which a mole on her face became cancerous as "quite terrifying".
Loti Jackson, 28, from West Sussex explained to Daybreak how catching the cancer early had saved her life, but expressed concern at the rapid pace of the disease.
"Being on the side of my face, I had noticed it had gotten raised a bit. But to go from August to November of being fine to needing it removed was quite terrifying."
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.