Public health doctors have warned of the dangers posed by over-exposure to the sun's rays.

West Herfordshire Health Authority (WHHA) says doctors treat 40,000 skin cancer cases each year in England and Wales -- 80 per cent of which are caused by bad tanning habits.

Children are particularly vulnerable, and it can take 20 years for sun damage to show itself in the form of skin cancer lesions.

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WHHA advises the following safety precautions:

*Wear sunscreens of factor 15 or above with four star UVA protection -- but never use them to prolong your time in the sun.

*Avoid sun when rays are at their strongest between 11am and 3pm.

*Wear a hat of close-weave material, which should also cover the back of the neck.

*Put on sunglasses conforming to the BS2740 standard.

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