Skin cancer figures rising in Sweden

Skin cancer figures rising in Sweden
More Swedes are being diagnosed with skin cancer than in previous decades.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg point out that today more people voluntarily expose themselves to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays than in years past.

“Many of us get sunburned outdoors in our free time–in the garden or on the lake, for example. And we shouldn’t overlook the increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation that comes from traveling overseas,” said Gunilla Wastensson of Sahlgrenska to Sveriges Television (SVT).

Researchers have also uncovered large differences in the number of cancer cases recorded in Sweden’s coastal areas in comparison to inland counties, and as one travels from north to south.

Skin cancer is more than twice as common in Skåne, Sweden’s southernmost country than in the far northern county of Norrbotten, which has 50 percent less total UV radiation than Skåne.

And Västra Götaland county on Sweden’s west coast has seen the number of malignant melanoma increase four-fold since 1970. In 2005 the county recorded 2,122 cases, compared to 577 cases in 1970.

Wastensson explained that the best protection is to avoid being outside when the sun is its strongest.

“And cover your body with clothing, use a hat or brimmed cap and sunglasses,” she said.