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Age and Socioeconomic Factors Are Strongest Determinants of Sunburn

"Our research confirms previous findings that younger adults continue to be the group most likely to get sunburned and, as a result, are at an increased risk for developing future skin cancers," said Dr. Gelfand. "The increased number of sunburns among people with the highest incomes could be attributed to their ability to travel to tropical destinations more often than those with a lower income. As we know, people shouldn't 'take a break' from practicing proper sun protection just because they are on vacation."

Other variables that had a high correlation to increased sunburns included gender, employment status and alcohol use. Overall, 44 percent of male respondents reported at least one sunburn compared with 34 percent of female respondents. When examining employment status, students were nearly twice as likely to sunburn as those who were unemployed (63 percent vs. 33 percent, respectively). In addition, 47 percent of employed respondents reported being sunburned.

Alcohol use continues to be associated with a higher incidence of sunburn, as reported in an earlier study that found a correlation between alcohol use and an increased rate of more severe sunburns among beachgoers. The study found that 56 percent of binge drinkers, defined as people who have had five or more drinks in one night within the past 30 days, reported being sunburned compared to only 35 percent of respondents who did not engage in binge drinking.

"Our finding of 39 percent sunburn prevalence in the general population is significant because there have been enhanced education efforts during this time period," added Dr. Gelfand. "Sunburns are dangerous and everyone should take proper measures to protect against them. Sunburns also exact a financial tool on society. Every year, sunburns have been shown to cost employers millions of dollars in lost wages from employees taking sick time as a result of their painful skin injury – which pales in comparison to th
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