Experts have linked the rise of package holidays to places like Spain, along with sun-bed use, to a five-fold increase in rates of the deadliest form of skin cancer since the 1970s.
Cancer experts say that the quest for a healthy-looking tan has contributed dramatically to an increase in cases of malignant melanoma.
Over 13,000 people are now developing the disease every year compared to about 1,800 in 1975, according to Cancer Research UK.
This means that the incidence rate has shot up from just over three per 100,000 of the population 40 years ago to around 17 per 100,000 today.
Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with over 2,000 people dying from the disease each year.
Sunburn is a known factor that increases the risk of skin cancer, especially for those with pale skin or a large number of moles or freckles.
Head of Statistics at Cancer Research UK, Nick Ormiston-Smith, said: “Since the mid-1970s, malignant melanoma incidence rates in the UK have increased more rapidly than any of today’s 10 most common cancers.
“Holidays in hot climates have become more affordable and sun-beds are more widely available since the 1970s.
“But we know over-exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer.
“This means, in many cases, the disease can be prevented, and is why it’s essential to get into good sun safety habits, whether at home or abroad.
“The good news for those that are diagnosed, is that survival for the disease is amongst the highest for any cancer. More than eight in 10 people will now survive it.”
Aside from avoiding sunburn, other advice includes spending time in the shade – especially during the hottest part of the day – covering up, and using a minimum factor 15 sunscreen.