20 August 2014
More than one in five UK adults (22%) don’t believe they can get sunburnt if they already have a tan, according to a new poll by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The YouGov poll of 2,250 men and women aged 18+ reveals a shocking picture of unawareness across the UK when it comes to the dangers of the sun. Over half (52%) of those polled didn’t realise they could get sunburnt through a window and bizarrely, and two percent thought it was possible to get sunburnt at night during a full moon.
When it comes to using sun protection, many people in the UK are putting themselves at risk of skin cancer - a third (33%) use suntan lotion that is out of date and almost one in five (19%) say they have used tanning oil instead of suntan lotion.
Worryingly some are more concerned with their appearance than the risk of cancer, one in seven (15%) are more worried about things like the risk of uneven tanlines, peeling, age spots or wrinkles, while one in five people (19%) are more worried about the pain a sunburn causes than a cancer diagnosis.
Dave Readle, 32, from Liverpool was first diagnosed with skin cancer in 2011 after noticing red marks on his face and chest:
“Until my diagnosis, being careful in the sun had never been something that I had considered.
“Looking back, I do think that my skin cancer is as a result of times where I was badly sunburnt in my youth. I can remember that while studying abroad I spent a lot of time outside and in sun beds after the gym, never taking precautions against the sun. There was one particularly bad incident where I used tanning oil and came out of it with a really nasty burn.”
Carol Goodman, Skin Cancer Nurse Specialist on the Macmillan Support Line, says:
“This research highlights a very real problem when it comes to British attitudes towards tanning and sunburn. UK skin cancer death rates are amongst some of the worst in the world and this is largely because many people are still very ignorant about the risks of the sun.
“But the risks are very real, suntan lotion goes out of date after 12 months so it’s important to make sure you stock up each year. Tanning oils have very low SPF protection and therefore mean you are more likely to get burnt. It is vital to protect your skin when out in the sun by using suntan lotion with an SPF of at least 30, wearing sun protective clothing (including hats and sunglasses) or staying in the shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm.”
The poll asked people where they have been badly burnt in the past and reveals the top ten most common places to get sunburnt:
1. Shoulders (44%)
2. Back of the neck (30%)
3. Back (29%)
4. Legs (27%)
5. Nose (22%)
6. Chest (21%)
7. Forehead (20%)
8. Feet (16%)
9. Hairline / scalp (15%)
10. Ears (12%)
Two percent of Brits say they have sunburnt their bottoms in the past.
No one should face cancer alone. The Macmillan team is here to support you every step of the way. For more information or to donate visit www.macmillan.org.uk/sun or call 0808 808 00 00.
For further information, please contact:
Cora Bauer, Media and PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2016 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1 Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov online survey of 2,250 UK adults aged 18+. Fieldwork conducted 6-7th August 2014. Survey results are weighted to be nationally representative of all UK adults.
2 Skin cancer mortality statistics. Cancer Research UK:
(Accessed August 2014)
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk