Skin cancer rates are now five times higher than they were in the 1970's, according to Cancer Research UK. The people most at risk from skin cancer are:

  • People who have lots of moles

  • People who are very fair skinned - especially with fair or red hair

  • People who have lots of freckles

  • People who have a tendency to burn

Over 8 out of 10 melanoma cases in the UK are linked to too much exposure to UV rays from sunlight or sunbeds.

"In the UK, most of us are not exposed to the sun for the whole year. But over the past couple of decades, more and more of us have been going abroad for two or three weeks a year for a holiday and to get a sun tan. The number of people getting melanoma has increased in the UK since it became popular to have a tan and go abroad for holidays. "We know from research that the type of ultraviolet light used in sunbeds can cause all types of skin cancer. Sunbeds definitely increase your risk of melanoma. "A study published in 2009 found that people who have regularly used a sunbed before the age of 30 have a 75% increase in their risk of developing melanoma."

The advice is:

  • spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm

  • wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses

  • use a sunscreen with at least a factor 15 and a high star rating - use ir generously and reapply regularly

For advice on being sun smart click here

"Doctors are unclear about how sunscreen affects your risk of melanoma. Some research studies have shown that using sunscreen does not reduce the risk of getting melanoma. It may even increase the risk. This may be because people wearing sunscreen sometimes stay longer in the sun because they think they are protected. So they actually get more exposure to ultraviolet light overall. "But it is very important not to think that using sunscreen allows you to spend longer in the sun. You still have to be careful. Most people don't put enough sunscreen on."

Research has also looked at other medical conditions and melanoma risk. A study has found that people with asthma have a slightly lower risk. You can find information about other medical conditions and their link with skin cancer here

For more information on skin cancer click here