Teens still unaware of sunbathing risks
Four out of 10 teenagers think it is fine to lie in the sun for up to two hours without protection, according to a poll.
The survey, for the Teenage Cancer Trust, also found 15pc of young people think sunbeds are a good way to build up a base tan against the sun.
More than one in three said they did not wear sun cream even on hot days, while more than half do not know how to apply it.
Many think sun cream should be rubbed in completely despite recommendations to leave a film on the surface of the skin for maximum protection.
The UK poll of 13 to 24-year-olds also found one in 10 think sunbeds are safe to use once a week. One in 10 mistakenly believe fake tans cause skin cancer.
Simon Davies, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said: "It's the sun damage done to skin when young that can lead to skin cancer in later life, which is why these findings are incredibly worrying.
"We all love the sun but we have to respect our skin. Melanoma is fast becoming one of the most common cancers in young people so they need to learn how to protect themselves now."
Skin cancer rates have tripled since the late 1970s among those aged 15 to 34.
In the UK, more than two people under 25 are diagnosed every day with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Rona Mackie, professor of dermatology at the University of Glasgow, said: "Over the last few years a lot of time and money has been spent on public information campaigns aimed at young people and their parents offering advice on sensible sun exposure and making it clear that sunbeds are not a safe alternative to natural sunbathing.
"Clearly the messages are not getting through, and more work needs to be done to get young people to act on sun safety advice."
Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "It is disappointing that some teenagers are still unaware of the health risks and dangers from the use of sunbeds and excessive exposure to the sun.
"Overexposure to UV radiation can cause damage to your skin and increase your risk of getting skin cancer, one of the most common cancers.
"On sunny days using a high factor protective sun cream, wearing appropriate clothing and sunglasses and spending time in the shade during the hottest part of the day all help to protect the skin."