A MAJOR increase in cases of skin cancer directly linked to more people taking sun holidays during the Celtic Tiger era has been identified by new research.
The number of Irish skin cancer cases almost doubled between 1994 and 2011 – but the biggest increases were among young people from 2002, when Irish consumer spending, and sun holiday bookings, reached record peaks.
The figures show that between 1994 and 2002, the number of confirmed cases rose by about 1pc per year.
But from 2002 onwards the number of cases began to skyrocket, with a year-on-year increase of between 6pc and 10pc from 2002 to 2011.
The study, based on data compiled by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI), has been published in the 'British Journal of Dermatology'.
It revealed that, between 1994 and 2011, the number of skin cancer cases treated in Ireland soared from 5,146 to 9,190.
Data from 2011-2013 is still being compiled. However, both the NCRI and the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) said the number of skin cancer cases was expected to double again by 2040.
The study drew a direct link between the spiralling number of cases and lifestyle issues among affluent urban populations.
The study dealt particularly with non-melanoma type skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
BCC remains the most common type of skin cancer detected, though the most dangerous kind of cancer is melanoma.
BCC and SCC, while capable of spreading to other parts of the body in rare cases, are more likely to be physically disfiguring if untreated.
The report strongly endorsed the need for "vigorous public health campaigns on the dangers of sunburn".
The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) stressed that while skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in Ireland, it is also the most easily prevented through proper sun protection.
The ICS also stressed that 90pc of cases are curable.