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Swedes tan and burn the most: study

TT/Clara Guibourg · 6 Jul 2011, 07:13

Published: 06 Jul 2011 07:13 GMT+02:00

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"We love the sun, we have long and cold winters, and as soon as we get our vacation, we Swedes want to make the most of every minute of our sun, which our skin can't handle," said Ingrid Synnerstad, associate professor in skin disease and chief physician at the dermatology clinic at Linköping University Hospital, to SR.

An international web survey, presented on Tuesday at Sweden's annual political event "Almedalsveckan" shows that every year roughly 2,800 people in Sweden are diagnosed with malignant melanoma, which is now one of the most common forms of cancer in Sweden.

According to the survey, Swedes are the nationality who consider a nice tan to be the most important, and also who use least solar protection and subsequently burn the most.

Sweden is also, second only to Australia, the country with the largest percentage of its population struck by malignant melanoma.

And according to Ingrid Synnerstad it's hard to get Swedes to understand and accept that there are risks associated with sun bathing.

The number of cases of skin cancer has doubled in Sweden every decade since the sixties, most likely because of the growing number of vacationers travelling to sunny countries.

According to the study, forty percent of those who've survived the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, continue to sun bathe, despite being aware of the risks of the cancer relapsing.

Story continues below…

The international web survey on sunbathing habits was conducted by GenoMEL, an international cooperation supported by the European Union among others.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:53 July 6, 2011 by eddie123
interesting stuff however, i'm more concerned by the rate at which i observe people in Sweden with Psoriasis Skin Disease. is there something in the Swedish environment that is responsible for this high rate of Psoriasis. the local can investigate this and write an article for her readers.
10:09 July 6, 2011 by Brianito
Quote "And according to Ingrid Synnerstad it's hard to get Swedes to understand and accept that there are risks associated with sun bathing. " ..... I don't think it's that hard. Unless I'm totally mistaken Sweden has some mediums called Radio & TV, so why don't the "concerned" health officials launch a "media campaign" to educate the people, just like in Australia ? Let me guess...... it cost money and they cannot afford to to it !
13:29 July 6, 2011 by Mb 65
When ever i talk to Swedes about anything bad they always it will never happen here. I reply oh yes it will.
19:20 July 6, 2011 by ooh456
Shocking article. in other news Nigerians tan least of anyone in the world.
21:16 July 6, 2011 by elepaol
@Mb 65: You're right... "this thing can't happen here, we're in Sweden..."
00:37 July 7, 2011 by nimshubur
As a person of 100% Swedish descent who lives in a highly insolated part of the world (yes, you can get sunburned in Minnesota when the temperature is -20°C), the advice I have is to wear a hat, wear long sleaves and trousers, and stay indoors.

I see so many Swedes in their 40s with skin like leather (no, Eddie 123, it's not psoriasis, I suffer from that myself, and it is a hereditary autoimmune condition) that I am appalled at the poor care they've taken of their skin. It used to be, even here, that only farmers, fishermen, and sailors would be so weathered - but they didn't have a choice. Doing this to yourself on purpose is insane.
01:24 July 7, 2011 by GLO
Da!!!! Swedish people dont get until they get cancer......
05:34 July 7, 2011 by Da Goat
@ eddie123

it is most likely that the psoriasis is caused or more correctly triggered by certain food additives or even natural ones like salicylates. Find what it is and the psoriasis will go away!
09:36 July 8, 2011 by cattie
@Mb 65 ++++ "In Sweden because we do not have those kind of problems"

"One must not think about that, that does not happen here."

Now I see, the thinking is not because of geographic isolation and a safety net govenment. It is a culturally reinforced value of denial as a way of life.

RE psoriasis, since it is autoimmune, it goes in the same category as allergies. swedes (in sweden) have one of the highest rates of allergies in the world. As high as 1 in 3 Swedes. The theory called the hygiene hypothesis is likely the cause. Meaning children whose immune system is protected from common infections, will start to turn against itself with autoimmune problems.
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