Brits aren’t listening to warnings about sun safety, says report

Worrying statistics suggest sun safety measures aren’t getting through to some British holidaymakers, with more than one in 20 saying they never wear sun protection when abroad.  

Summer is fast approaching and soon tourists will be hitting the beach in droves, looking to create holiday memories for years to come.

But with beautiful sunny days can come serious damage: skin cancer accounts for 4% of all new European cancer diagnoses and 1.3% of all cancer deaths (in 2020).  

Now a consumer research survey by Europesure Travel Insurance, which was published during Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May, has flagged fresh concerns that the messages about using sun protection to reduce the risks of skin cancer just aren’t getting through to some British holidaymakers.  


The study revealed that while more than a quarter of respondents are worried about skin cancer, a full 5.5% never bother with any form of protection from the sun. That figure creeps up to 8% for the 18-to-24-year age group.  

On cloudy days, 11% say they don’t think to wear sun cream as they don’t consider sun damage to be a consideration in those conditions. Experts say differently, however, arguing that up to 80% of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the earth on overcast days.   

7% of those surveyed said that even though they do use sun cream, they prefer to use a low SPF in order to get a tan, and that number goes up to 13% for 18 to 24-year-olds.  

Painful sunburn has been experienced by 27% of British holidaymakers. Women are more affected than men, with a third admitting to getting burnt while abroad.

A shocking number of respondents also said that a sunburn “is just part of the holiday experience”, showing a distinct lack of awareness of the facts: sunburn is known to increase melanoma risks, with that risk level being compounded each time a person gets burnt.  


Europesure Travel Insurance’s Sales and Marketing Director, Paul O’Sullivan, said, “Our survey highlighted worrying attitudes towards sun safety, particularly amongst younger generations. Although we surveyed British travellers, we are sure that the same behaviours are exhibited by travellers from other countries too, so want to extend the warning across Europe.”  

Melanoma cases are rising around the globe, with experts saying they are anticipating a 27% rise in cases between 2020 and 2030. In human figures, this is 413,000 new cancer sufferers. Melanoma deaths are also predicted to rise –-by a whopping 31% in this decade – with the total mortality projected to be 74,750 people annually by 2030. 

“It’s time for all European travellers to take much better care of themselves and their families when out in the sun,” said O’Sullivan, “and to appreciate that a tan can come at a huge health price.” 

To get the most out of sun protection, apply a cream or similar product at least half an hour before initial exposure and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.  


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Photo source: Arturo Rivera for Unsplash