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Men are twice as likely as women to not protect their skin in the sun, despite more men dying from melanoma than women, according to research due to be released at the British Association of Dermatologists.

It also found that people in their teens and early twenties are less likely than any other age group to use sun protection, despite increasing numbers of melanoma being diagnosed in this age group.

One in ten people surveyed (10%) take no protective measures at all against sun exposure (compared to 8% in 2000).

Facts about skin cancer

• There are three main types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma – the deadliest but least common, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
• BCC and SCC are collectively known as ‘non-melanoma skin cancer’. BCC is the most common skin cancer.

There is a faster rate of increase in men and more men die from the disease, possibly due to late detection.

Sun safety tips:

You don’t have to avoid the sun all year, and some sunshine can be good for you as it helps the body to produce vitamin D, but taking a few steps when out and about in the summer sun or when on a sunshine holiday will help to protect you from sunburn and the risk of skin cancer, particularly if you are pale skinned.

• Protect the skin with clothing, including a hat, T shirt and UV protective sunglasses
• Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when it’s sunny
• Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 (SPF 50 for children or people with pale skin) which also has high UVA protection
• Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight
• The British Association of Dermatologists recommends that you tell your doctor about any changes to a mole – if your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist (on the GMC register of specialists), the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the NHS.

Sunscreens should not be used as an alternative to clothing and shade, rather they offer additional protection. No sunscreen will provide 100% protection.

This study was released at the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Conference.

Words by Lea James

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