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Study shows 40% get sunburns on purpose to deepen tan

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Despite knowing risks, 40% admit they burn in sun to deepen tan

A new study shows that a whopping 40 percent of people admit they get a sunburn on purpose to "deepen" a tan, despite the fact that getting just one sunburn every two years can triple one’s risk of skin cancer.

The research, conducted by Macmillian Cancer Support, surveyed 1,000 men and women in the UK about their tanning practices. Of those surveyed, 25 percent said they believed burning in the sun was the only way to get a tan – and over 90 percent said they knew that getting a sunburn can lead to skin cancer.

The survey also showed that young adults between the ages of 18 to 35 were over twice as likely as their parents over 55 to believe that burning in the sun will help them get tan faster.

After a long, cold winter, 10 percent of those surveyed said they planned to lay out in the sun without using any sunscreen; thus, increasing their risk for skin cancer. There were gender differences too, as men were nearly twice as likely to forego using sunscreen as women.

In the UK, those diagnosed with malignant melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer, is on the rise – with an approximate 35 people per day being diagnosed with the disease.

"I spent many years living in Dubai so I was always in and out of the sun with little protection. I was very unaware of the damage that too much sun and getting burnt could do. I thought I was just living my life normally,” said skin cancer survivor Judy Duddridge.

“My cancer was between my eyebrows and left me with a nasty scar and made me self-conscious. It's so important to be sun aware, never to burn and always wear and top up with sunscreen," she added.

"This new research shows that despite being aware of the health risks people are still burning themselves in the sun in order to get a tan. As we start to look forward to summer after one of the coldest winters yet, it is alarming that staying safe in the sun is not a priority for many people,” said Carol Goodman, a skin cancer nurse with Macmillian Cancer Support.

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“Sunburn will cause serious damage to your skin which can lead to cancer,” she added. “A diagnosis of malignant melanoma can be just as fatal as some other cancers. It is vital to protect your skin when out in the sun by using sun tan lotion, wearing sun protective clothing – including hats and sunglasses – or staying in the shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm."

Here are Six Skin Protection Tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

1. Seek shade, especially during midday hours.

2. Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.

3. Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.

4. Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.

5. Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.

6. Avoid indoor tanning.

SOURCES: 1. Macmillian Cancer Support, Kelly Fitzgerald, "40% Of People Get A Sunburn On Purpose To Deepen Tan" (June 28, 2013). 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Skin Cancer Prevention (June 28., 2013)