UK children have Europe’s highest skin cancer rates
British parents are confused about the need to protect their children in the sun, despite the fact that children and teenagers in the UK have the highest rates of skin cancers of any European country, warns the British Association of Dermatologists.
According to a study on skin cancer incidence throughout Europe, the UK has the highest skin cancer rates both for children, aged 0 to 14, and teenagers, aged 15 to 19.
Furthermore, cases of melanoma – the deadliest type of skin cancer – increased four-fold in UK teenagers over just two decades (1978 to 1997).
Despite this alarming rise, a survey by the British Skin Foundation last year found that a quarter of British parents don’t think it necessary to apply sun protection to their children before they go to school in the summer months, even though many schools do not have shade in the playground. The charity also found that 37% of parents buy sunscreens with lower than the recommended SPF 30 for their children.
Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: "It is frightening that we have the highest rates of skin cancer in our children and teenagers than anywhere else in Europe - even more worrying when you consider that so many parents are still not adequately protecting their children in the sun.
"A four-fold increase in melanoma rates in teenagers, in just 20 years, is nothing short of terrifying.
"Sunburn as a child can as much as double the chances of skin cancer later in life, so kids need to be protected with sunscreen, clothing and shade when spending time outdoors on sunny days."