Saturday 16 December 2017

Urban dwellers 'at more risk of skin cancer than their rural counterparts' - experts

A rather sunburned back. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
A rather sunburned back. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Young people and urban dwellers in Ireland are now more than ever at risk of developing skin cancer, according to health experts.

Irish Cancer Society said the cancer is increasing among young people, despite the fact that it can be prevented in 9 out of 10 cases.

They also said that Irish people living in "affluent urban settings" now have an increased risk of skin cancer compared to their rural counterparts.

In fact, non-melanoma skin cancer is 43pc higher for females and 52pc higher for males in urban rather than rural populations.

The general number of patients with skin cancer has increased by 72pc among females and 53pc among males up to the age of 34 from 1994 to 2011.

In 2013 alone, there were 112 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 79 cases of melanoma among those in the same age group in Ireland.

Cancer Prevention Manager at the charity Kevin O'Hagan said they are seeing a pattern develop; "Among young people in their twenties and thirties, we are seeing a developing pattern of rising Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer most likely from repeated sunburn during leisure activities.

"It’s important to remember the real dangers of even mild sunburn and tanning from recreational sun exposure and sunbeds.

"While the sunburn or the tan may fade, the damage remains and this can lead to skin cancer.”

Experts are also keen to inform people that the protection of skin during childhood is vital to reduce the risk of cancer in later years.

Skin cancer takes approximately 10-15 years to develop and children who get sunburnt in their formative years also have an increased risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer in adult life.

O’Hagan continued: “The report suggests that increasing incidence in urban affluent settings could be due to lifestyle and related outdoor activities.

"These activities, such as playing outdoor sports or going on holidays abroad, can lead to irregular high levels of sun exposure.

"In contrast, those living in rural locations may be more likely to have a low level of exposure on a more ongoing basis, have a lower tendency to holiday abroad and have less access to sunbeds.”

The Irish Cancer Society has urged the public to be SunSmart from April to September.

Their SunSmart code has five simple steps: Seek shade, cover up, wear wraparound sunglasses, slop on sunscreen and check the UV index.

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