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On The JJ Barnes Blog, I share tips from cancer specialist, motivational and educational speaker Dr Hugo De La Pena about how to reduce the risk of skin cancer and stay safe in the summer sun.

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With my pale skin and tendency towards sproutig new, and often suspicious moles, I’m very cautious in the sun. I spray factor 50 on regularly, and often stick to the shade. However, I do love to be warm, and I want my children to be able to enjoy the summer break from school by charging around the garden getting tanned and having fun without worrying.

So, because I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to keep them safe, I got tips and advice from cancer specialist, motivational and educational speaker Dr Hugo De La Pena about how to reduce the risk of skin cancer and stay safe in the summer sun.

Dr. Hugo De La Pena

By Dr. Hugo De La Pena, MD, PhD, FRCP is a renowned cancer specialist who is also an ambassador for Cancer Research UK and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. Recently, he partook in a new Cancer Research TV campaign to assist with raising funds for clinical trials, and has helped raise  thousands of pounds by participating in the London Marathon 2023 and Race for Life events. Dr. Hugo is a consultant for the NHS, and a motivational and educational speaker on cancer’s prevention, treatment, and cure.

The Benefits Of Sunlight


The benefits of sunlight are IMPORTANT, and this is not a lesson on how to avoid it. Feeling the warm sunlight on your skin can give a sense of inner peace, and the positive effects that the sun has on our mental health are priceless and innumerable.

The sun will make you appreciate the natural world around you even more, and for many people, sunny days will make them want to hang out with friends and family, especially when they can do outdoor activities together. 

It is undeniably very British for men and boys to strip off as soon as the sun comes up, and for women to sunbathe in the park in their bikinis. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; however, keep in mind that prolonged exposure to the sun without protection is what ultimately results in skin damage and cancer, and it’s virtually impossible to develop skin cancer without sun exposer.

How To Stay Safe In The Summer Sun

Don’t Be A Sitting Duck

Be aware of the sun even when you’re not expecting to be exposed to it, for instance while driving. Your right arm (assuming you are the driver) and face can get exposed to the sun for a really long time when you’re driving in the summer, and skin cancer in the right lower arm and face are very common.

If you go to a music festival, horse race, football game, Wimbledon, Formula One races, beer gardens, etc., you might be sitting or standing in the same place for hours without realizing it.

Therefore, whether you think you need it or not, it is always a good idea to carry sun cream with you. This way, if you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to move or leave the area and the sun is beating down on you, you will be able to apply it. Even better, wear it in the summer anyway!

I’ll Scratch Your Back If You Scratch Mine

You will have a lot of fun with your friends when you go to beer gardens, the beach, the pool, and barbecues. And, once you have had a few drinks, you will probably stay out in the sun for a longer period of time and probably become more relaxed and careless.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to have someone in the group remind everyone to apply sunscreen once every two hours. As we have somebody who is named driver – have somebody who is a named ‘sun cream’ nagger!

Apply More Sun Cream When Swimming

Even if your sun cream is waterproof, it will last less time outdoors when you go swimming, plus when you swim you likewise get twice the sun exposure, from both the sun overhead, and the reflection from the surface of the water, known as the mirror impact. So when in the water, reapply sun cream as much as possible.


Children First

Children (and teenagers) always come first, just like in any emergency, so focus on their health in the sun.

Since there is a known connection between sunbeds and skin cancer, artificial tanning “sunbeds” are not allowed for children under the age of 18 in the UK. However, efforts are being made to discourage older children from using them too.

Children should be encouraged to regularly apply sun scream, and to sit in a shaded area or under a large  umbrella to try and avoid too much exposure and burning.

Babies should wear sun suits (while swimming or on the beach) which cover the vast majority of their body since they are especially defenceless against the sun.

Paler Skin Needs More Protection

With skin cncer, there is definitely no question that the more fair your skin is, the more in danger you are in from the sun, so if you are pale and or freckled (like me), take additional care, since you are most in danger. Suncream, shade, and a hat are your best friends when you’re out in the sun.

Find more from Dr. Hugo De La Pena now:


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