London: The number of people who will get skin cancer in the UK is set to treble within the next thirty years, a top scientist has warned.
Already over the last five years more people have died of skin cancer in the UK than in Australia,says Professor Mark Birch-Machin, professor of Molecular Dermatology at the University of Newcastle.
“This is not going to go away. The rate of increase is greatest in Britain.” he said.
In the UK there are 100,000 new cases of skin cancer each year and in the US 1.3 million cases.
Speaking at the spring conference of the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors in London, he said that the predicted rise in temperatures as a result of global warning,some 3 degrees, would push the average summer temperatures in Britain to between 19 and 22 degrees Farenheit, when most people would get sunburn. Temperatures during the summer currently average 19 degrees or less.
Professor Birch-Machin said that messages about safe-sunbathing were currently confusing and misleading. High factor creams allow people to stay in the sun for longer but whilst they prevented sunburn they did not prevent damage to the skin cell DNA which it is now believed plays a role in skin cancers. He pointed to the recent publicity over the potential lack of Vitamin D which is made by the skin as a result of sunlight and that some sunbed outlets were promoting their businesses by highlighting this issue.
“You can get enough vitamin D by walking from your car to your office,” he said.
A test to determine sunburnt DNA has been developed by Professor Birch-Machin. Burnt DNA is thought to lead to cell mutations that cause skin cancer. See www.skinphysical.co.uk
He predicted that new “smart” sunscreens which protected against the burning of cell DNA would soon be on the market.