Cancer Research: Lead by Example to Keep Children Safe in the Sun

A joint research project conducted by the charity Cancer Research UK and NIVEA SUN has revealed that many parents are confused about protecting their skin from the sun in spring and summer. Data was collected from 1,110 parents who had children aged 18 or under, questioning them about their own sun safety as well as that of their children. Cancer Research UK urged parents to remember that children often imitate adult behaviour, so setting a good example about sun protection is important.

Specialist business rates company RVA Surveyors recently participated in Football Shirt Friday, a national fundraising event for Cancer Research UK. The team at RVA paid donations to be able to wear the football shirt of their favourite team to work for a day, raising a total of £410 for the charity after CEO Stephen Hughes volunteered to match the original £205 raised by employees. You can find out how to participate in the next Football Shirt Friday by watching the short video attachment.

Protecting Children

Positive information was revealed by the survey regarding parents protecting their children from the sun, with 78% and 73% respectively saying they would put sunscreen and a hat on their children for outdoor activities. However, only just over half (52%) were likely to encourage their children to stay in the shade, with just a fifth saying they covered their children with long sleeves.

Only a tiny minority of the parents questioned (4%) admitted to not considering any form of protection from the sun when their children were outside. Cancer Research UK recommends being more careful or staying out of the sun altogether when it is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, as well as using a sunscreen that is SPF15 and four-star rated as a minimum.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

Many parents are unsure about how to choose the right sunscreen for their children and themselves, according to the results of the study. Sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays and is rated accordingly, but only 22% of the surveyed parents knew the difference between these two ratings. Protection against UVA rays is indicated by the star rating, while the level of protection from UVB rays is denoted by the Sun Protection Factor number, or SPF rating. More than half of those surveyed had never heard of the UV index or, if they had, did not know how to read it.

The UV Index

The UV Index measures the strength of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and gives it a rating from one to 11+. The highest UV rating in the UK is eight, which is rare. Anything from three upwards means that protection from the sun is a required precaution to stay safe. The UV Index considers the effects of forecast cloud cover and where the sun is positioned in the sky, as well as the ozone amounts in the stratosphere. In the UK late June tends to be the peak for the UV Index, with the rating heading as high as seven. In the Mediterranean area, indices as high as 10 are common.

Protecting Adults

Despite the large number of parents that ensure their children are wearing sunscreen in spring and summer, this protection does not always extend to the adults themselves. More than half of those that responded to the survey admitted that they had experienced sunburn in the UK within the past year. Despite this, almost two-thirds were less likely to use sun protection in the UK than when holidaying abroad. Cancer Research UK urges parents to protect themselves and lead by example.