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Teens Using Less Sunscreen, Report Shows

Fewer Teens Using Sunscreen

More US teens are hitting the tanning beds and fewer are using sunscreen to protect themselves while out in the sun, according to a new report.

Data was collected for the study from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, showing the use of indoor tanning devices and sunscreen from 2001 to 2011 by a nationally representative sample of high school students.

The number of youths wearing sunscreen decreased from 67.7 percent in 2001 to 56.1 percent in 2011.

Meanwhile, the use of indoor tanning beds was more prevalent among white females with 37.4 percent in 2009 and 29.3 percent in 2011. Females were found to more likely use indoor tanning than males, with 20.9 percent accounting to the former and only 6.16 for the latter.

Published in the Preventing Chronic Disease journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study says that the adolescents in particular are vulnerable to engaging in poor behavior when it comes to protecting their skin.

“These findings indicate the need for prevention efforts aimed at adolescents to reduce risks for skin cancer,” Corey Basch of William Paterson University in New Jersey and colleagues report in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. “Skin-protection behaviors are especially important for children and adolescents because sun exposure during childhood and adolescence directly influences the development of skin cancer later in life,” they wrote.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been rising by more than 1 percent a year since 2001. In the U.S., skin cancer is considered as the most common type of cancer.

Dr. Jeanine Daly, a dermatologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y., said she was surprised at the drop in sunscreen use despite all the warnings about UV exposure leading to skin cancer.

Daly believes that the message about sun exposure leading to skin cancer is still not getting through, especially to young girls. "No matter how hard we've been trying to get that message out, we need to keep at it and work harder," she said. "The bottom line is that skin cancer is largely preventable."

Lead researcher Corey Basch, an associate professor in the department of public health at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. says, "Using sun-protective behaviors like applying sunscreen and avoiding intentional exposure to tanning devices will be key [to lowering cancer risk]."

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