Dr. Lesley Rushton, Imperial College London: Working in the Sun in Britain Could lead to a Death a Week -online publication of paper in British Journal of Cancer, 17th January

Sun exposure at work could lead to one skin cancer death a week according to a paper entitled "The burden of occupationally-related cutaneous malignant melanoma in Britain due to solar radiation" published online in British Journal of Cancer, 17th January 2017.

The researchers have estimated there are 48 deaths and 241 cases of melanoma skin cancer each year in Britain caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun at work. Dr. Lesley Rushton, lead researcher of the team at Imperial College London’s Faculty of Medicine, said: “We’ve shown previously that people often don’t understand the risks of damage caused by sun in the UK.  But this research shows you don’t have to work in the Mediterranean or a traditionally sunny country for the sun to damage your skin. It’s important to get to know what your skin is normally like, and to tell your doctor if you notice any changes to how your skin looks or feels. Skin cancer can appear as a new mole or mark, or it can be a change to something you’ve had for a while. Now that we have a clearer picture of the extent of the damage caused, employers need to make sure they take sun exposure at work seriously and work out how to reduce it.”

The findings, published in the British Journal of Cancer, showed that construction workers had the highest number of deaths (44% of deaths), followed by agriculture workers (23% of deaths). Public administration and defence workers - including the police and the armed forces - accounted for 10% of deaths.

The researchers looked at the risk of developing skin cancer for outdoor workers using information from international studies, and the proportion of workers potentially exposed to sun from British data sources. These figures were then used to estimate the number of people who might have developed skin cancer due to work-related exposure using a mathematical model.