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Charity's warning after 'UK skin cancer rates jump 45% in a decade'

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Tourists enjoy the beach in Varadero, Cuba
Tourists enjoy the beach in Varadero, Cuba -
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Cases of skin cancer — or melanoma — have increased 45% in the UK over the past decade, according to a newly-published study by Cancer Research UK.

The incident rate increased by 55% for men and 35% for women, it added.

The study has been released to mark the launch of the charity's "Own your Tone" campaign, which encourages people to embrace their skin colour. This means resisting the temptation to bask in the sun to get tanned.

Researchers said the increase in the number of melanoma cases is likely due to the range of "vacation packages" abroad that started in the 1970s.

More recently, affordable airlines have made travel to hotter countries more accessible, making it easier for tourists to head to sunny destinations several times a year.

Getting burns once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma, according to the organisation.

Karis Betts, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said safety from the sun was not only for when you went abroad.

"The sun in the UK may be strong enough to cause burns from the beginning of April, until the end of September," said Betts.

"So it's important that people protect themselves adequately both here and abroad when the sun is strong.

"We want to encourage people to accept their natural appearance and protect their skin from UV damage."

The organisation recommends that you cover yourself properly when in the sun, look for shade, and apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and four of five stars.

The study shows that while melanoma cases are still more common among people 65 years or older, they have increased 70% in adults aged between 25 and 49 years.

The UK is not an isolated case: almost all developed countries are trying to fight the problem. In 2017 Spanish dermatologists warned that there had been an increase of 38% in just four years. In Belgium, the Anti-Cancer Foundation reported an increase of 350% in skin cancer cases between 2004 and 2016.

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