People who regularly drink alcohol increase their risk of developing melanoma by around one-fifth, skin scientists claim.

The scientists found that drinkers have about a 20% increased chance of skin cancer compared with occasional or non-drinkers.

The study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, included analysis of 16 worldwide studies involving more than 16,200 patients with melanoma.

Loading article content

Light drinkers (those who drank less than one drink a day) had a 10% increased risk of skin cancer, rising to 18% for moderate to heavy drinkers.

For the purposes of the study, a drink was defined as 12.5g alcohol, the equivalent of 1.56 units.

The experts, including academics from the University of Milan-Bicocca, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said research had already linked drinking to a higher chance of people getting sunburnt. They said: "In Western societies, consumption of alcoholic beverages during outdoor leisure activities such as barbecuing and sunbathing is common.

"Other research has shown that people who consumed alcohol during time spent at the beach had more severe sunburns compared to non-drinkers."