Sun Protective Behavior on the Rise in U.S. Adults

But sunburn still prevalent, as is the use of indoor tanning

THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Adults in the United States may be taking more precautions to avoid sunburn outdoors, but many are still getting burned, and a substantial proportion are utilizing indoor tanning, according to research published in the May 11 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

In an effort to assess trends in sunburn and sun protection in U.S. adults, Anne M. Hartman, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from five National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) conducted between 2000 and 2010. Among adults aged 18 to 29, the authors found the prevalence of sunburn to be high, with slightly more than half of all adults and more than 65 percent of whites reporting at least one sunburn in the last year, despite an increased use of sunscreen, shades, and body-covering clothing.

Hartman and colleagues also consulted the 2010 NHIS to examine the proportion of U.S. adults using tanning beds. They found that approximately 5.6 percent of U.S. adults reported using a sunlamp, tanning bed, or tanning booth in the last year, with indoor tanning most prevalent among white women aged 18 to 21 (31.8 percent) and aged 22 to 25 (29.6 percent). In addition, 40 percent of white men and 57.7 percent of white women reported participating in indoor tanning at least 10 times in the past 12 months.

"These results suggest that additional efforts are needed to identify and implement effective strategies targeting younger adults to improve their sun protective behaviors and prevent sunburn and ultimately skin cancer," Hartman and colleagues conclude. "Given the high prevalence of indoor tanning among young adult women, an increased focus should be placed on this population to prevent melanoma from increasing significantly as this generation ages."

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