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A new study links alcohol consumption with an increased risk of skin cancer, BBC News reports. The ethanol in alcohol is converted to a compound called acetaldehyde in the body, which may make the skin more sensitive to harmful ultraviolet rays.

Researchers examined 16 studies, involving thousands of participants. They found having at least one alcoholic drink daily increased the risk of skin cancer by one-fifth. The more a person drank, the greater their risk. People who had the equivalent of a few strong beers were up to 55 percent more likely to develop the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, compared with people who didn’t drink or who only drank occasionally.

The researchers said in addition to causing changes in the body that can lead to increased risk of skin cancer, alcohol can also impair a person’s judgment, leading them to spend longer in the sun or to forego sun protection.

The study appears in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Professor Chris Bunker, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, said in a news release, “We would always urge people to be careful in the sun and try to enjoy it responsibly. It is not uncommon to have a few drinks whilst on holiday or at a barbeque, we would just encourage people to be careful and make sure they are protecting their skin, this research provides an extra incentive to do so. Many of us have seen holiday makers who have been caught unawares the day before, fuzzy-headed and lobster red – an unwelcome combination.”

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