Press Release

Minister Reilly urges people to use suncream to guard against the sun’s harmful effects

The Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, today (5 July 2013) appealed to Irish people to protect themselves properly from the harmful effects of the sun during the current spell of good weather. The Minister said “while the good weather is most welcome after a long winter, I want to send a very clear message to everyone that the sun is dangerous if you don’t use cream to protect your skin. The majority of us have the fair Irish complexion which places us more at risk from harmful ultraviolet radiation so we need to be extra careful when sunbathing”.

Advising people, the Minister said, “if you are out enjoying the sunshine over the next few days, wear your broad brimmed hat and your factor 20, 30, 40, or 50 depending on your skin type. If you have children make sure they are properly protected as their skin is extra sensitive. The sun in Ireland does as much damage as it does in any other country”.

Two people die every week from the melanoma skin cancer and we have 700 new cases annually – in particular, the incidence is rising amongst people under 60 years of age. The Minister said, “if you notice any new spots or moles, don’t hesitate to go to your local doctor who is best qualified to assess if you should be concerned or not. The earlier skin cancer is diagnosed, the better the likelihood of successful treatment.

“Enjoy the sun while it lasts but please be careful not to burn”, he concluded.

Notes to Editors

Skin cancers are the most common cancers diagnosed in Ireland. They are broadly categorised as malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanoma is the most serious of these cancers. The number of new cases of melanoma diagnosed in Ireland has been steadily increasing since the National Cancer Registry began publishing data in 1994. In 2010 there were 867 new cases of melanoma diagnosed (363 males and 504 females). This compares with 375 new cases in 1994 (135 males and 240 females). The number of deaths is increasing for both males and females.

While a melanoma can occur in anyone, some people are at much greater risk. The fairer a person’s complexion, the more at risk they are from UV (ultraviolet) radiation. Over 75% of the Irish population has a ‘fair complexion’ – blue/green eyes, pale skin, freckles and a tendency to burn.

A child’s skin is most sensitive to sunlight (UV radiation). Up to 80% of a person’s total life‐time UV exposure is accumulated in childhood. Protecting children from the damaging effects of UV radiation is very important as childhood sunburn can double the risk of getting skin cancer later in life.