What increases my risk of skin cancer?


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9 out of every 10 cases of skin cancer are caused by UV rays from the sun or sunbeds. Over exposure to UV rays, which leads to tanning, redness or burning of the skin, causes damage to skin cells. While much of this damage is repaired some remains and can lead to skin cancer later in life.

Everyone who spends time outdoors is at risk of skin cancer, not just people who sunbathe. This includes people who work and play outdoors.

However there are a few things that increase your risk even more. They include having:

  • Pale or freckled skin that does not tan or burns before it tans
  • Naturally red or fair hair
  • Blue, green or grey eyes
  • A large number of moles (50 or more)
  • A history of sunburn
  • Already had skin cancer
  • A close family member who has or had skin cancer
  • Ever used a sunbed

Your skin type and your cancer risk

There are six different skin types.

They range from white skin that burns and never tans to black skin. In this county three in every four people have skin types 1 or 2 which means their skin burns and does not tan or burns before it tans. This greatly increases their risk of skin cancer.

However, even if your skin type is brown or black, which makes it less likely to burn, it can still receive enough UV damage to increase skin cancer risk.

We have developed an interactive online quiz to help you determine your skin type so you can take proper precautions to protect your skin.


More information on skin cancer prevention



For more information

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