AMERICAN TEENS FORGO SUNSCREEN

American teens aren't wearing enough sunscreen.A decade-long study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that American teenagers are forgoing skin protection in the sun and are also still prone to using indoor tanning devices. The study highlights the need for educating adolescents about the dangers of skin cancer, as it is the most common form of cancer in the United States.Children and teenagers are particularly at risk when exposed to the sun, because damage can directly influence the onset of skin cancer in adulthood.The study also notes that from 2001 to 2010, incidence of melanoma increased annually approximately 1.5 percent, specifically 1.6 percent among men and 1.4 percent among women.This all points to the fact that there is not enough education on the proper use of sun block and other measures to prevent skin cancer. A tan complexion is still very much considered en vogue, and teenagers are simply choosing image over health. Moving forward, medical professionals, teachers and parents should be tasked with better educating adolescents on the necessity of skin protection, to help prevent this disease.

The study

The CDC biannually collected data using its Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System between 2001 and 2011, surveying a nationally representative sample of American high schoolers.The CDC passed out a survey to high school students that focused on two key questions:5

  1. When you are outside for more than one hour on a sunny day, how often do you wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher?
  2. During the past 12 months, how many times did you use an indoor tanning device, such as a sunlamp, sunbed, or tanning booth?

For the first question, the CDC used a scale ranging from never to always. For the latter question, a number of times was provided, and the CDC then divided the answers into three categories: those who never used indoor tanning devices, those who moderately used indoor tanning devices (1-19 times) and those who heavily used devices (20 or more).The CDC then used the data to create statistics based on sex, ethnicity and grade level. The study was then approved by several well-established universities and medical centers.

Overall, one of the most dramatic statistics was that those who reported using sunscreen dropped more than 10 percent over the course of the decade.However, there is some good news as well. Between 2009 and 2011, the use of indoor tanning devices dropped nearly 2.5 percent. Though this is only a slight decrease, it could suggest that young adults are slowly veering away from tanning beds and other potentially harmful devices.

Stay protected in the sun

Protecting yourself against the sun takes more than simply slathering on some sunscreen. Often, the amount of sunscreen worn by the average beach goer is significantly less than the recommended amount.Remember to apply sunscreen evenly and regularly. To ensure you’re safe from the sun, invest in sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.SPF stands for sun protection factor, and works by elongating the amount of time your skin is safe from sunburn.10

The CDC also recommends staying in shaded areas when possible on hot, sunny days. Furthermore, skin can be protected with clothing that fully covers your arms and legs, as well as the use of a good sun hat. Wide brim hats can be used to shade the ears, face and neck.11 To protect your eyes, regularly wear sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Certified vet technicians recommend also protecting your pets from the sun, particularly dogs. Provide your dog with plenty of shade and pet-safe sunscreen to help keep them from getting burned on long walks and days at the beach.12 

1“Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011” by Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH; Charles E. Basch, PhD; Sonali Rajan, EdD, MS; Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD. Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0191.htm

2“Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011” by Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH; Charles E. Basch, PhD; Sonali Rajan, EdD, MS; Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD. Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0191.htm

3“Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011” by Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH; Charles E. Basch, PhD; Sonali Rajan, EdD, MS; Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD. Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0191.htm

4“Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011” by Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH; Charles E. Basch, PhD; Sonali Rajan, EdD, MS; Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD. Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0191.htm

5“Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011” by Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH; Charles E. Basch, PhD; Sonali Rajan, EdD, MS; Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD. Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0191.htm

6“Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011” by Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH; Charles E. Basch, PhD; Sonali Rajan, EdD, MS; Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD. Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0191.htm

7“Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011” by Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH; Charles E. Basch, PhD; Sonali Rajan, EdD, MS; Kelly V. Ruggles, PhD. Preventing Chronic Disease. CDC. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0191.htm

8“​Fewer American teens using sunscreen, despite warnings” by Steven Reinberg. Healthday. August 21, 2014. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fewer-american-teens-using-sunscreen-despite-warnings/

9“Sunscreens Explained” Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/sunscreens-explained

10“Sunscreens Explained” Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/sunscreens-explained

11“What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?” CDC. May 29, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/prevention.htm

12“Protect Your Pets From Getting Sunburned” by Janet Tobiasson Crosby. Vet Medicine. http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/diseasesandconditions/qt/petsunscreens.htm

Join the conversation