Ski holidaymakers at risk of skin cancer

23rd Nov 2005

New research shows British skiers and snowboarders are putting themselves at increased risk
of skin cancer by getting sunburnt while on the slopes.

This warning comes from Cancer Research UK as a new survey commissioned
by the charity with the Ski Club of Great Britain* reveals 65 per cent
of skiers admit to getting burnt while on a winter sports holiday.  This
is despite the vast majority (90 per cent) knowing ultraviolet (UV)
rays, which cause sunburn, are stronger at high altitude than on a


Almost a third of holidaymakers (32 per cent) are further increasing
their chances of skin cancer by applying sunscreen just once a day.
Experts advise it is particularly important to re-apply sunscreen
throughout the day when skiing or doing other winter sports as sweat and
friction caused by the physical exertion can reduce its effectiveness.



Despite being clued-up about the dangers of UV rays at altitude, the
survey also reveals winter holidaymakers are more likely to be caught
out when there is light snow or a white-out**.  Around half of those
asked (42 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively) are unaware that
precautions against burning are still vital in these weather conditions.


Sara Hiom, Head of Health Information for Cancer Research UK says:
“It’s worrying that so many people are allowing themselves to get
sunburnt when enjoying winter sports.  Often, people who would never
dream of baking themselves on a sun-drenched beach will hit the slopes
with little regard for the hazards of the strength of the sun.  Experts
believe sunburn doubles the risk of skin cancer, so it’s vitally
important to use protection from UV rays when you’re in a high-altitude
environment, especially around midday.”


To enjoy the slopes in safety, skiers and snowboarders can follow Cancer Research UK’s guidelines:

*      The best form of protection is covering up with clothing:
wearing a long-sleeved jacket with a zip-up collar, hat and gloves.

*      Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen - one that protects from
both UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 15 or more.  Apply it before
hitting the slopes and reapply every two hours, particularly if it is
rubbed or sweated off.

*      Wraparound sunglasses or goggles, offering at least 99%
protection from UV, should be used to protect eyes.


An estimated 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in
the UK and four out of five of these are preventable. 



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