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Health Education, Phenotypic Risk Factors, Skin Cancer, Sunscreen



  1. Graham, Emily M.
  2. Merrill, Katreena C.


ABSTRACT: Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States. Contributing factors include phenotypic exposure to ultraviolet radiation, lack of protective measures, and using high-risk behaviors. Protective measures (sunblock/protective clothing) are not popular with college-aged individuals, whereas tanning bed use is highly prevalent. The purpose of this study was to describe phenotypic risk factors for skin cancer, application of sunscreen, and tanning bed use in college students. A convenience sample of 673 students (55% male) completed a descriptive survey during winter, spring, and summer months. Researchers collected information about phenotypic risk factors using the Fitzpatrick Skin Scale, use of sunscreen, previous tanning bed use, and gender. Furthermore, 9.5% of college-aged individuals reported using sunscreen. Sunscreen use varied by season (p = .009) but not by skin type. Women reported higher sunscreen use (p = .0001). In addition, 12.6% disclosed a history of tanning bed use (M = 1.2). Male participants were more likely to use tanning beds during winter months (p = .015). Skin type did not influence tanning bed use. College-aged individuals are not sufficiently protecting themselves from the sun. More attention is needed to help melano-compromised individuals, especially men, understand how risk factors influence the development of skin cancer.