Beach shades will not keep off the sun's deadly rays

Caroline Cassidy

For those of you planning to spend your holidays sunning yourself on a beach, you might think you'll be safe from the sun's rays by retreating to the shade of a beach parasol. But recent research has shown that even under a sun shade, you are still at risk from UV rays.

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Spanish researchers used UV sensors placed at the base of sun parasols and found that while they offer good protection from direct sunlight - only letting five per cent of the radiation reach the sensor - UV rays still managed to slip under the shade.

Diffuse radiation, rays that have been scattered in all directions on their way to Earth, was still able to sneak beneath the parasol's protection and is able to burn the skin.

Dr Martinez-Lozano, of the University of Valencia, said: "It is evident that the umbrella on its own does not offer total sun protection but may be viewed as an added physical barrier."

More than 10,000 Britons every year are affected by malignant melanoma, which is the most fatal form of skin cancer, and 2,000 Brits die from it every year.

The number of cases has doubled in the last 20 years with sunbed use, the increase in cheap foreign travel and not using enough sunscreen being held responsible.

However, Cancer Research UK is expected to release surprising new advice in the next few weeks. They will be recommending spending more time in the sun rather than covering up.

This is because the sun's rays have benefits as well as dangers. Vitamin D is created in the body on exposure to sunlight and it is important for our health.

Vitamin D can aid calcium absorption and bone health, it may help prevent Alzheimer's and it has been linked in keeping prostate cancer under control.

In England over half of the population is lacking in vitamin D and two-thirds are in need of it in Scotland.

Cancer Research UK is expected to suggest a "commonsense" attitude towards sunbathing between 11am and 3pm.

Are you a sun worshiper or do you prefer to cover up at all times? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.