Cancer Research UK is a large and well respected UK education and cancer research organization. It recently found that four times as many people in Wales over fifty are being diagnosed with malignant melanoma as 30 years ago. It says that currently about 27 cases of malignant melanoma per 100,000 people in the 50-59 age group are being diagnosed in Wales compared to around six people per 100,000 at the end of the 1970s.
In Wales 30 years ago malignant melanoma was the seventeenth most common cancer among people in their fifties. Now, it is the fifth most common cancer in this age group.
The research group says it cannot definitively pinpoint the reason for the quadrupling of rate of the most deadly form of skin cancer in the age group.
But, it also says it can make a pretty good guess.
In the UK during the 1970s there was an explosion of cheap package holidays concurrent with the introduction of the sun bed. (The selling point was that people should get a base tan before going on vacation – one of the biggest myths promulgatedby the tanning industry)
Yinka Ebo, senior health information officer with Cancer Research UK, said, “Malignant melanoma, like many cancers, can take years or decades to develop, so these figures could be a result of past behavior.”
She adds: “We know what the main causes of skin cancer are – exposure to UV and sunbeds.”
We suspect Cancer Research is right. The group has long been concerned about the rising rates of melanoma in the UK and has said on more than one occasion it believes the popularity of these inexpensive vacation packages and sunbeds have resulted in increased melanoma rates.
If you are over fifty and used tanning beds when you were younger, you should be monitoring your skin very closely. (Everyone should do monthly skin checks.)
And, no one should use tanning beds.
Be Safe. Be SunAWARE