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Parents fail to heed warnings on child sunburn
Updated: 2004-05-10 17:10

Many parents are ignoring health warnings about exposing their children to the sun, a cancer charity said yesterday.

More than a third of British parents polled by Cancer Research UK admitted that their child had suffered sunburn despite the majority knowing this can cause skin cancer

The survey of 200 parents revealed that 41 per cent of them liked to see their children with a suntan because it made them look healthier. Research has shown that sunburn in children can more than double the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

The research forms part of a series of sun awareness campaigns being launched this month, ranging from warnings about exposure to UV rays while watching sport to checks on facial moles.

Cancer Research UK has launched a campaign to highlight the dangers of sunburn in children during the summer months.

The charity is launching a poster with the caption Kids Cook Quick to deliver the message that youngsters should be protected against the sun's harmful UV rays.

The poster, being launched for the charity's Sun Awareness Week, features two sunburnt children sitting on a beach, and is being sent to 19,000 nurseries and every GP surgery in the country, as well as being displayed in Boots pharmacies.

Sara Hiom, the co-ordinator of Cancer Research UK's campaign, said: "This poster has been created to help remind parents to protect their children. Our survey shows that just over three-quarters of parents know that it's never OK for a child to go red in the sun, but they may not always realise that young skin can burn quickly, in as little as 10 minutes. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we can be caught out."

The campaign says that youngsters and adults should avoid the sun in the middle of the day, cover up with hat, T-shirt and sunglasses and use sunscreen of factor 15 or higher.

Cases of skin cancer have more than doubled in the past decade. Some 7,000 new cases of malignant melanoma - the most serious form of the disease - are diagnosed each year in the UK, with some 1,600 deaths.

Malignant melanoma is the third most common cancer among those aged 15 to 24.

The British Skin Foundation (BSF) warned sports fans to take care to protect themselves against the sun at sporting events such as Wimbledon this summer.

Dr Colin Holden, a consultant dermatologist, said that on the hottest day of summer last year, normal skin burned in just 20 minutes.

"The BSF wants people to enjoy being outside and cheering players on at sporting events, but there is nothing enjoyable about getting sunburnt, and it can cause cancer," he said.

Macmillan Cancer Relief is sending skin cancer nurse specialists out around the country to highlight the importance of sun protection.

The nurses will hold sun awareness days in shopping centres and "Mole Watch" clinics in shops and hospitals, where the public can have their moles checked for signs of damage.

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