Most Israelis have not sat in the sun for a tan during the past year, but the desire to brown in the sun's rays remains common among young Israelis who were born here, according to a Geocartography poll conducted for the Israel Cancer Association (ICA). As the summer begins, the ICA will offer free skin cancer checks around the country. "Awareness Week for Preventing and Early Diagnosis of Skin Cancer" will begin this Sunday and continue through Friday. Some 300 stations for early diagnosis will be open in health funds, hospitals and other locations. For more information, go into the Web site at www.cancer.org.il or call 1-800-599-995, which is open 24 hours a day. Since a week to increase awareness of the dangers of skin cancer was launched 15 years ago, Israelis have become much more knowledgeable about the risks of exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, said ICA director-general Miri Ziv, but there remains much to do. In Israel, 51.9 percent of young people aged 18 to 34 tanned themselves at least once last year, compared to 33.2% of those aged 35 to 54 and 26.7% of those over the age of 55. The figure is much higher among young Swedes (90%) and Germans (68%), but lower in the US (50%). Secular Jewish Israelis born in Israel are much more likely to seek tans on a regular basis than the religious or those born abroad. Fully 77.8% of young Israelis disagree with the statement that "Tanning is good for health," while 81.1% of those 35 to 54 and 76.3% of those 55 and over agree that tanning is not healthful. The poll had a representative sample of 500 adults. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and is directly caused by accumulated exposure to the sun. UV exposure also prematurely ages the skin, produces too much vitamin D (which can trigger the formation of kidney stones) and cause cataracts in the eyes. The ICA recommends when going out on a sunny day to wear long-sleeved light clothing, UV-protective sunglasses and a protective hat. Slather sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on exposed skin. It is best to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the rays are most intense. People with more than 20 beauty marks on their skin should avoid the sun as much as possible. Babies should not be exposed to sun between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and their skin be covered when taken outside. They should not be taken to the beach or pool during the morning or afternoon hours. Children who swim should wear a long-sleeved light shirt over their bathing suit, the ICA recommends.