THE “sun, sea and sangria” generation of older people is being diagnosed with potentially deadly skin cancer at an alarming rate, a charity has warned.
More than 10,000 people aged 55 and over have – for the first time – been diagnosed with the most serious form of skin cancer in a single year, figures from Cancer Research UK show.
Yorkshire and The Humber has contributed to this landmark figure with around 640 people aged 55 and over diagnosed with malignant melanoma every year, while the total number diagnosed across all age groups in the region is 1,000.
Nationally, some 10,583 people aged 55 and over were told they had malignant melanoma in 2014, the most recent figure available, up from about 3,100 cases 20 years ago.
The charity said people living longer is contributing to the rise but also blamed cheap package holidays.
It said the “sun, sea and sangria” generation – who took inexpensive package holidays from the 1960s onwards and wanted a tan at all costs – were now being diagnosed due to sun exposure and sunburn.
Rates of melanoma in people aged 55 and over have more than doubled in the last 20 years, the data showed.
Nicki Embleton, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Yorkshire, said: “One of the reasons for the rise in melanoma rates is likely related to the ‘sun, sea and sangria’ generation who benefitted from cheap package holidays from the 1960s onwards.
“Getting sunburnt doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely develop melanoma but it does increase your chances of developing the disease. It’s worrying to see that malignant melanoma rates are continuing to rise and it’s very important that people take care of their skin in strong sun, even if they’ve been sunburnt in the past.
“We all need some sun for vitamin D, but enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunburn can reduce your risk of malignant melanoma. The best way to protect skin when the sun is strong is to spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, and to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses.”