Skin cancer rates have soared by 45% in a decade and younger people are the group worst affected.
Cheaper holidays abroad are thought to be a driver of the surge, which splits at 35% for women and 55% for men.
Cancer Research UK found rates of melanoma – the most deadly skin cancer – rose from 18 cases per 100,000 people to 26 between 2004-2006 and 2014-2016.
Cancer risk generally goes up with age but while melanoma is still more common in over-65s, rates for 25 to 49-year-olds have increased by 70% since the 1990s –from nine cases per 100,000 people in 1993-1995 to 16
Cancer Research UK chief Michelle Mitchell said: “While some might think a tan is a sign of good health, there is no such thing as a healthy tan. It’s actually your body trying to protect itself from harmful rays.
“These statistics highlight the importance of our Own Your Tone campaign, which encourages people to embrace their natural skin tone and adopt sun-safe behaviours.”
Getting sunburn just once every two years triples the risk of melanoma.
Experts believe almost nine in 10 cases could be prevented if people followed advice to protect their skin with a high-factor sun cream.
Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and the second most common in 25 to 49-year-olds.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Although cancer survival is at a record high, more people are getting diagnosed with melanoma and nearly half a million people were urgently referred for skin cancer checks in the past year.
“It’s vital people take every precaution to protect their skin, particularly in the summer months, by wearing sunscreen and spending time in the shade.”
Karis Betts, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Sun safety is not just for when you’re going abroad. The sun can be strong enough to burn in the UK from the start of April to the end of September.”
The charity added that rising rates of cancer cases were also down to increasing awareness of the disease, which has led to more people seeking a diagnosis.