Monday 23 January 2017

Global rankings revealed: How likely an Irish person is to develop skin cancer

Published 14/07/2016 | 02:30

'Although we might despair of our erratic summer weather and wrongly believe that we don't need to wear suncreen or cover up on cloudy days, we should, in fact, be particularly sun-aware from March to September' (stock photo)
'Although we might despair of our erratic summer weather and wrongly believe that we don't need to wear suncreen or cover up on cloudy days, we should, in fact, be particularly sun-aware from March to September' (stock photo)

Sunseekers in Ireland are now ranked 14th in a global league table showing countries where people are most prone to developing skin cancer.

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The worldwide index graded countries according to pale skin colour, UVA light and rates of skin cancer.

Click here to view full-size graphic
Click here to view full-size graphic

Ireland emerged with a high ranking, mainly due to our 'ginger genes', leaving most of us with fair complexions and prone to freckles.

The stark warning emerged in an international skin-cancer index of 62 countries. It was complied by Derma.plus, a German-based platform of skincare advice overseen by leading doctors.

Although we might despair of our erratic summer weather and wrongly believe that we don't need to wear suncreen or cover up on cloudy days, we should, in fact, be particularly sun-aware from March to September.

Rising

Around 900 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Ireland every year and the rate is rising.

The report found that people in New Zealand and Australia are most susceptible to skin cancer. The average ultraviolet light factor in Australia is 7.35, compared to 2.04 in Ireland.

When researchers measured the skin-colour scale, which looked at levels of paleness, the Australians had a score of 5.75, compared to 8.25 in Ireland.

Countries which are even higher in the table than Ireland include Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.

Others where people have a stronger likelihood of skin cancer are Denmark, Slovenia the US, the UK, Finland, the Czech Republic and Germany.

The report also compiled a socioeconomic treatment index, which cross-referenced national health spending, access to treatment and individual income against death rates.

It placed Ireland 11th on this scale, which gives patients with the disease a good chance of survival, depending on factors such as stage of diagnosis.

Non-melanoma is the most common form of the disease. Melanoma spreads faster in the body.

Dr Patrick Ormond, a dermatologist in St James's Hospital in Dublin, said that over 75pc of the population in Ireland had "Celtic skin type".

This means that we freckle and burn easily and tan with difficulty or not at all.

"People with a fair complexion need to be extra careful in the sun," he said.

Dr Ormond said melanoma skin cancer is the third most common form of the disease diagnosed in the 15-44 age group.

Untreated

He continued: "When caught early, this type of cancer can be treated effectively.

"However, if left untreated, it can spread to parts of the body."

People don't have to go abroad to get skin cancer, although sun holidays have contributed to higher rates of the disease.

The UV index measures the strength of the sun's UV rays.

The higher the index, the greater the risks of skin and eye damage.

When the index is three or higher, people should then cover up, seek shade and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30.

The index is available at Met Éireann's website.

Irish Independent

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