Sunbathing takes more Swedes’ lives
Summer and sun ... and skin cancer. Although it is a well-known risk to sunbathe, Swedes continue to bask in the sun as much as ever. This year, 500 Swedes will die of malignant skin cancer, which is more than those who die in traffic, according to Cancerfonden (the Swedish cancer society). For many winter-weary Swedes, traveling to sunny destinations is the obvious way to spend a vacation. But the sun has a dark side: skin cancer.
“Although Swedes are well aware of the risks, research shows that we have not changed our behavior,” says Yvonne Brandberg, professor of health sciences at the Karolinska Institute.

This year in the spring, The UV levels in Sweden as high as in Sicily, southern Italy


During the past 20 years, skin cancer is the cancer that has increased more than any other tumor group. Each year around 40,000 Swedes are affected, and of them almost 3,000 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most severe kind of skin cancer.
“It’s due to the tanning, but also because we don’t examine differences in our skin the way we used to.” More women than men are affected, and the higher socioeconomic status, the greater the risk. Brandberg believes this has to do with the fact that people with better finances take more time off to go places warm and sunny.

When it comes to lung cancer, it is the opposite: The lower socioeconomic status, the higher the risk. This has to do with smoking, because nine out of 10 lung cancer diagnoses are among Swedes with low education and income. Because the prognosis for lung cancer is poor, it is the type of cancer that takes most Swedes’ lives. In 2010, close to 3,600 Swedes died of lung cancer. In recent years lung cancer causes the most cancer deaths among women—more than breast cancer. And since the population is steadily getting older, the risk that we will, at some point, be affected with cancer, also increases. Better methods in diagnosing the disease and expanded screening programs also add to this increase. The probability of developing some form of cancer before the age of 75 is 31 percent for men and 28 percent for women, according to the Cancerfonden's report. The risk of contracting one of the most common cancers, prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women, is 13 and 10 percent respectively.