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Sun Savvy Sadly Lacking Among Americans
Date:1/11/2008

Most people practice risky behaviors while under its glare, study finds

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Think you're doing all you can to protect your skin when you're out in the sun? Think again.

Most people fall short, miserably short, in reducing their risk of getting skin cancer, a new study from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia claims. Given that skin cancer rates have increased enough in the past 30 years to give it the dubious distinction of being the most common cancer in the United States, people might want to take more heed while basking in the sun's rays, the researchers note.

The majority of the U.S. population engages in multiple risky behaviors for skin cancer, according to the report. Among the worst offenders: young adults aged 18 to 29, men, Midwesterners, smokers, "risky" drinkers, whites, less-educated folks, and those whose skin isn't sun-sensitive.

The results, which are published in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, were met with disappointment by dermatologists who have been preaching sun safety for decades.

"This [study] shows how badly we are doing," said Dr. Clay Cockerell, a clinical professor of dermatology and pathology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

While many other studies have found that risky behaviors for skin cancer are common, few have investigated the behaviors across multiple age groups and focused on the presence of multiple risky behaviors, said study author Elliot Coups.

That was the goal of his team, which used data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey of more than 28,000 U.S. adults. "We looked at five skin cancer risk behaviors," Coups said. They found the most common risk behaviors were infrequent use of protective clothing -- a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and long pants -- and infrequent use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 1
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