THE European Union's health and consumer chiefs urged holidaymakers yesterday to take extra measures to protect themselves from the sun this summer in a bid to curb rising levels of skin cancer, notably among children.

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are the leading cause of skin cancer with one in every three cancers diagnosed as the skin variety, the Skin Cancer Foundation says. “Our message to consumers this summer is very clear: be sun-smart this summer and seek protection,” EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said in a statement.

She advised parents not to expose babies and children to direct sunlight as the risk of skin cancer is increased by UV radiation. There are two types of UV rays -- UVA, which is responsible for tanning, and UVB, which leads to burning.

According to Cancer Research UK, the number of skin cancer cases in that country has more than doubled since the early 1980s with over 2'000 deaths from skin cancer each year. The rise in the number of cases of skin cancer caused by exposure to the sun prompted Brussels last year to introduce stricter labelling rules for sun cream, banning the words “sunblock” and “100 percent sun protection”. “Most importantly, holidaymakers should be fully aware that sunscreen is only one of a number of measures that are necessary for effective protection against the sun,” EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said.

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