ITV Tonight: How safe is a sun tan?

Professor Julia Newton-Bishop, Professor of Dermatology, is featured on ITV’s Tonight documentary explaining the risks of melanoma skin cancer.

She says the biggest risk factor is suffering sun burn – and figures from Cancer Research UK show almost 15,500 people were diagnosed with melanoma of the skin in 2014.

Find out more by catching ‘Tonight: How safe is a sun tan?’, due to be broadcast on ITV at 7.30pm Thursday, 17 August.

Julia leads the melanoma research group at the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology (LICAP). She tells the programme that there were hopes that the incidence of the disease would have begun to fall by now. Instead, incidence of skin cancer has gone up by 45% over the last decade.

The reason for this seems to lie in the fact that ever increasing numbers of people vulnerable to the disease are travelling to sunnier destinations – and getting sunburnt.

She said: “A simplistic explanation is that the increased number of cases is occurring because of the relationship between sun exposure, particularly intense sun exposure on holiday, and a vulnerable population – that is those British people whose skin is pale.”

For Tonight reporter Kylie Pentelow, this was a story with a very personal connection. Her father died two years ago of skin cancer and she set out to ask: how safe is it to get a sun tan?

Julia says one issue that had surprised the research community was the number of cases among older people – the so called baby boomers who were born in the years immediately following the Second World War.

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