Doctors say sunbathing risks have been exaggerated
Warnings that too much sunshine can lead to skin cancer have been exaggerated, a study has claimed.
Researchers say that, in fact, while sunbathing is a risk factor, the number of moles on a person’s skin is the most important indicator of whether they will go on to develop the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma.
The same scientists also identified two genes that dictate how many moles someone will have, as well as their risk of getting skin cancer.
The research, which was published in the journal Nature Genetics, will confuse people further on the issue of sunbathing.
However, the study’s authors said warnings to stay out of the sun are still valid but would be more useful if they focused on those most at risk: anyone with more than 100 moles on their body, redheads and people with fair skin – and taught them how to check their moles for changes in shape, size or colour.
Dr Veronique Bataille, a dermatologist at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust, added: ‘You often read that nearly all melanomas are caused by sunshine, which is not supported by the evidence.
‘Let’s keep sunshine in the picture because it does make you age and causes you wrinkles. But let’s move away from scaring people by saying they are going to die because they go in the sun.’