Study: U.S. Adults Skimp on Sun Care

Biggest No-No Is Not Wearing a Hat, Long-Sleeved Shirts, Long Pants

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on January 09, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Jan. 9, 2008 -- Got your list of 2008 resolutions handy? You might want to add sun protection for your skin to the list.

A new study shows that most U.S. adults don't practice top-notch sun protection. Here are the top areas for improvement:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants or other clothes reaching the ankles.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • Limit your time in the sun.
  • Don't get sunburned.
  • Don't use indoor tanning devices.

About two-thirds of U.S. adults only practice two of those sun protection habits, according to the new study, which is based on a 2005 survey completed by more than 28,000 adults.

People younger than 40, whites, Midwesterners, smokers, heavy drinkers, people who say their skin isn't sensitive to the sun, and people with less education were more likely to have bad sun protection habits.

Getting too much sun makes skin cancer more likely. And even if you wear sunscreen, you should also practice other forms of sun protection, such as limiting your time in the sun.

The new study, published in February's edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, comes from Elliot Coups, PhD, and colleagues at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Coups, E. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February 2008; vol 34: pp 87-93. WebMD Medical News: "Shade, Covering Up Best Sun Defenses."

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