Fair people risk skin cancer by thinking their skin is darker

skin cancer summer safety

Despite public awareness being at an all time high, skin cancer cases are still rising.

One of the benefits of expat life is improved weather, especially for northern Europeans. We all know a little sunshine is good for us, and even recommended. However, many people are still unaware of the risks they are taking in the sun.

A recent survey shows that while many Europeans have traditionally fair skin, nearly half (48%) think their skin is darker than it is in reality. This could mean people don’t appreciate the damage they are doing when exposing their skin to the sun, especially in countries where it tends to be stronger.

With public awareness of skin cancer at an all time high, why are skin cancer rates still growing? One reason may be related to how we see our skin, thinking it’s darker than it is causes us to stay in the sun longer than we should.

The survey also discovered the desire for a tan is increasing, with 62 percent of people questioned revealing they think a tan is attractive, up from 56 percent five years ago. Over three quarters (80%) of us never check for signs of skin cancer, with a shocking 69 percent admitting they didn’t know what to look for.

What to look out for

Many of us have dark patches or raised moles on our skin, while these usually remain harmless it is important to recognise any changes.

Cancer Research UK recommends checking moles following the ABCD rule. If you notice any of these signs then see your doctor:

  • Asymmetry – the two halves of your mole don’t look the same
  • Border – the edges of the mole are irregular
  • Colour – your moles isn’t all the same colour, with more than one shade.
  • Diameter – your mole is more than 6mm wide.

You should also look out for a new growth or sore that won’t heal; a spot, mole or sore that itches or hurts; and a mole or growth that bleeds, crusts or scabs.

Debbie Purser, managing director, MediCare International comments, “Whilst recovery rates with skin cancer or malignant melanomas are very good, it is also true that incidence rates vary widely around the world and are highest by far in Australia/New Zealand (37 per 100,000 in 2008) which are also popular expatriate destinations.

“Incidence rates are increasing rapidly in many countries, including in the Nordic countries, where the increase has been attributed to excessive sun exposure during holidays at lower latitudes.”

Image: Constantina Dirica (sxc.hu)