Skin Cancer :: Skin cancer prevention – beachgoers accurately report their sun habits

Adult beachgoers participating in a research study accurately report their sun habits, including sunscreen use and clothing worn on the beach, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. The skin cancer cutaneous melanoma has become much more common and deadly in the United States over the past few decades, according to background information in the article.

To reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, physicians recommend limiting the amount of time spent in the sun; seeking shade, especially during the hours at which ultraviolet rays are strongest; applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher; and wearing protective clothing, such as a hat, shirt, pants and sunglasses. Research on skin cancer prevention generally depends on the honesty of study participants reporting their behaviors.

David L. O’Riordan, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, surveyed and assessed the behavior of 88 adults (51 percent men, average age 40) who visited a beach in Honolulu on one of three days in February or March 2004. The participants answered questions about sun habits when they arrived at the beach and again when they left; their arms, legs and face were swabbed to detect the presence of sunscreen; and an observer took notes on their clothing and whether they appeared to have a sunburn. Twenty-five of the study participants were given fluorescent wristbands; these participants were located by an observer who took additional notes about clothing worn during their stay at the beach.

Overall, most participants’ reports were consistent with what the observers recorded regarding time spent outside, sunscreen use and clothing worn.

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