Lifestyle changes push a rise in malignant skin cancers, says the Office of National Statistics


There has been a large increase in ‘lifestyle’ related cancer, according to latest figure from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The biggest rise has been in the incidence of malignant skin cancers, with cases rising 38% among women and a staggering 56% in men.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, statistical information manger at Cancer Research UK, said that the figures showed how poor lifestyle choices were creating health problems for people in later life. "Forty per cent of cancers can be attributed to lifestyle factors”, he says.

The ONS report concluded that these increases are due to changes in exposure to solar UV rays as a result of altered patterns of lifestyle, such as recreational sunbathing. Dr Raj Mallipeddi, a consultant dermatologist and skin cancer specialist at St Thomas' Hospital in London says, "We are seeing younger people with skin cancer, and a significant factor is the desire to appear tanned … Unfortunately wanting to look good tends to override any concern about skin cancer."

sun lotion woman

Another reason for this is due to many people using out of date sun cream. The lack of knowledge among consumers about out of date sun cream means even the most vigilant could still be at risk of sun damage. Professional Beauty reported last month that most sun creams lose their ability to block UV 12 months after purchase. A survey by online beauty retailer revealed that an astounding 74.3% of people going abroad on a beach holiday would use sun cream that is over a year old.

According to the ONS, non-melanoma skin cancers are also widely under-registered. A study completed by the Habia skills academy (HSA) as part of its Skin Cancer Awareness campaign found that 80% of respondents infrequently or never check their skin for signs of cancer. What’s more, 69% said they had no idea what to look for, and 50% admitted to being reluctant to visit a doctor with their skin complaint, for fear of embarrassment or wasting their doctor’s time.
Skin cancer is the fastest growing type of cancer in the UK, especially among young people, and while public awareness has increased there still remains a worrying level of confusion about the causes. To help clients recognise the potential risks and causes of skin cancers, HSA's Skin Cancer Awareness (SCA) campaign has aimed to encourage beauty professionals to play their part in identifying the early symptoms of skin cancer through their role in working closely with clients. This is not to say they should be doing the job of a GP, but to educate clients of the causes and early signs of skin cancer may prevent these figures from increasing in the future.

Environ stockist, Purity Boutique Spa in Exeter is one spa that has taken the lead from Habia by launching the Skin Angels campaign.  The campaign, set to advice clients of the importance of skincare, has taken to the streets with samples of Environ’s RAD Antioxidant sunscreen. The therapists worked to promote good sun care practices by visiting schools and local Devon beaches. Spa owner Mariam Badavi says:  “We are passionate about helping our clients to look their best. There is so much you can do to improve your appearance and get healthy skin from the inside out.”