People with family history of melanoma 'ignore their own risk'

In collaboration with Adfero

Young people with a family history of melanoma - the most aggressive type of skin cancer - often fail to follow experts' advice on staying safe in the sun, US scientists have found.

Researchers at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey questioned 545 people between 2006 and 2009, all of whom had a first-degree relative who had been diagnosed with melanoma since 2001.

Participants aged 20 or above were asked about sunbathing and whether they applied sunscreen before going outdoors.

The report in the journal BMC Public Health reveals that the majority of respondents were aware that sunscreen could help protect against skin cancer against skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin.

But, many admitted they did not use any form of sun protection.

Young women were particularly likely to view a suntan as 'healthy', and were also the least likely to use sunscreen.

The findings are concerning, particularly as the risk of melanoma skin cancer is increased in people with a family history of the disease.

Lead researcher Professor Sharon Manne commented: "To reduce the incidence of melanoma we need to reduce the perceived benefits of sunbathing and to increase the use of sun protection."

Jessica Harris, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Having a family history of melanoma increases the risk of the disease, so it's important that relatives of melanoma patients, as well as people with fair skin, fair or red hair, or many moles or freckles, know how they can lower the chances of developing skin cancer.

"Enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunburn reduces the risk of skin cancer. Sunburn is a clear sign your skin has been damaged by the sun's UV rays."