05/20/2010 - Articles

More education needed on sun tanning

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Sun tanning, whether by natural exposure to sunlight or by visiting a tanning salon, is a major risk factor in developing skin cancer. Yet a new survey for the American Academy of Dermatology reveals that sun tanning is still viewed positively – even though people are also concerned about skin cancer.

The ‘Sunintelligence’ survey was done online and covered over 7,000 respondents throughout the United States. People look more attractive with a sun tan, said 72% of respondents (76% men, 68% women). And 66% said that people look healthier with a sun tan. Also, 60% thought that sun exposure is good for you. The latter may be because there has been research recently underlining the health benefits of receiving enough vitamin D – a vitamin which is manufactured in the body through sun exposure. In fact, the Academy believes you should get your vitamin D from diet and/or supplements rather than by relying on sun exposure.

But people are really concerned about the risk of skin cancer. Three quarters of those surveyed said they would do all they could to protect themselves and 80% said they were concerned about skin cancer.

‘Our survey highlighted the contradictory feelings many people have about tanning,’ says dermatologist Dr Zoe Draelos of Duke University.’ They like the way a tan looks but are concerned about skin cancer, which affects one in five Americans in their lifetimes.’ If you want a tan, you should go for a self tan product which incorporates sunscreen. But do not expose yourself unnecessarily to ultraviolet light from the sun.

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month ® and the Sunintelligence survey is still available online at the Academy’s website. Here you can also learn how to perform a skin self exam, download a body mole map and find out about free skin cancer screenings in your area.



www.melanomamonday.org May 10 2010


Created on: 05/20/2010
Reviewed on: 05/20/2010

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