FRIDAY, Jan. 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Common wisdom holds that adults who've experienced the trauma of melanoma would go to greater lengths to shield their children from the sun's rays.
But a new study shows that nearly half of parents who were also melanoma survivors said their child had experienced a sunburn over the previous year.
"Sunburns were common among the children in our study despite their elevated risk for skin cancer," study author Dr. Beth Glenn, an associate professor of health policy and management at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a university news release.
Sunburn is a major risk for the most deadly type of skin cancer, and children of survivors are at increased risk for developing the disease as adults, Glenn team noted.
They surveyed 300 white and Hispanic melanoma survivors with children aged 17 or younger. The parents were asked about their attitudes towards melanoma prevention, how they rated their children's risk for the disease, and the sun protection methods they used for their children.
Many parents said they relied on sunscreen to protect their children from the sun, with fewer saying their children wore hats or sunglasses, or tried to find shade.
The researchers also found that 43 percent of the parents said their child had a sunburn in the past year.
"Protecting kids against the sun's harmful rays at an early age is vitally important," Glenn said. "Our goal is to develop an intervention that will help parents protect their children today and help children develop sun-safe habits that will reduce their risk for skin cancer in the future.
Glenn is also associate director of the Healthy and At-Risk Populations Research Program at UCLA. She noted that, "children of Latino survivors were just as likely as children of non-Latino white survivors to have experienced a recent sunburn, which highlights the importance of including this group in our work."
According to Glenn, Hispanics have often been left out of skin cancer prevention research due to the common misconception that sun protection is not important for them.
The study was published online Jan. 13 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The American Cancer Society has more about melanoma.