Skin cancers a legacy of the 1960s cheap holiday boom
The legacy of the 1960s package holiday boom and the modern vogue for tans mean pensioners are now seven times more likely to get the most dangerous type of skin cancer than 40 years ago, new figures have revealed.
Older men are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma than their parents' generation and women are five times more likely.
Cancer Research UK said the huge increase was likely to be a consequence of British people having greater access to sunny climes since the cost of a holiday abroad dropped significantly in the 1960s.
According to the most recent figures, 5,700 over-65s are now diagnosed with melanoma in the UK every year - compared to only 600 in the mid-1970s.
Age is a risk factor for skin cancer and, as with all cancers, part of the reason for the increase in incidence is that people are simply living longer.
However, the scale of the change in skin cancer rates indicates that a change in our attitude to tanning and the desirability of darker skin tones are also factors.
Cancer Research UK said that getting sunburnt just once every two years could triple the risk of malignant melanoma.
Professor Richard Marais, a skin cancer expert, said the increased rate of melanoma was a "worrying" trend.