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Climate change causing skin cancer spike – UK doctors

Experts warn that higher summer temperatures could increase melanomas rates and other fatal cancers.

A rise in skin cancers and melanomas could result from warmer summers, according to a few academics and doctors. These experts argue that climate change could lead to an increase of skin cancer deaths.

Professor Dann Mitchell of University of Bristol in climate science argued that the University of Bristol would see more sunlight for those living in northern areas and the UK as a result of climate change. People are more likely to be outside when it is warm. “It leads to increased exposure to sunshine throughout the year and, crucially, more exposure the the UV portion of sunlight. This is known to be a risk factor for developing skin cancer.,” he said. 

While admitting that any relationship between heat and cancer is necessarily indirect – “It is impossible to say whether a heatwave caused particular cancers.” – the academic nevertheless argued that one could “The increased cancer risk is linked to the integration many more warm days. These warmer days are made more probable by human-induced global climate change..” More research was needed, he noted.

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Medical oncology professor Sarah Danson of the University of Sheffield concurred, expressing concern that “A sustained trend of hotter summers will result in more cases and more deaths due to melanoma,” while University of Leeds clinician Julia Newton-Bishop reasoned that “This weather has been so severe that sunburns are likely to increase. Melanoma will also be more common in the future..” 

However, Cancer Research UK senior health information manager Karis Betts cautioned against drawing a direct line between climate change and cancer cases, pointing out that “it’s important to remember that it’s the ultraviolet rays from the sun rather than its heat that cause sunburn and skin cancer.”   

The survival rate for this deadly skin cancer is increasing with its removal. However, there has been a decrease in the mortality rates associated with it. Thus, while melanoma incidence has been on the rise – up 141% since the early 1970s, according to Cancer Research UK – survival has doubled in the country over the same period, and projected mortality rates are expected to continue dropping.

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Proponents of climate change have had difficulty communicating the facts to people who are struggling to deal with immediate problems like poverty, war, and inflation. While there is a general lack of interest in climate change, the governments have taken a new approach to climate action. The US recently adopted legislation to invest $370 billion in clean energy, while the Netherlands plans to cut 50% of nitrogen emissions by 2030, a move so revolutionary it has triggered an uprising by farmers who were not consulted about the planned obsolescence of their way of life. A French area banned outdoor events in certain areas of June due to heat waves of 40° Celsius. This move has been called a warning sign of climate lockdowns.

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