Skiers' Behavior May Not Align With Ultraviolet Risk

Study supports use of sunscreen even on cloudy days due to still-high UV radiation

FRIDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Skiers should continue to use sun protection even on cloudy days due to high ultraviolet radiation (UV), according to research published in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Peter A. Andersen, Ph.D., of San Diego State University, and colleagues analyzed data from measurements of UV at 32 North American high-altitude ski areas, as well as interviews of 3,937 adult skiers or snowboarders.

The researchers found that closeness to noon, deviation from winter solstice, and clear days were the strongest predictors of UV. Latitude and altitude had only modest associations with UV, and temperature had a small but positive relationship with UV. Ski area users' sun safety was not consistently associated with UV. Users wore more sunscreen and were more likely to reapply it after two hours and wear protective eyewear during times of more UV, but fewer users wore protective clothing, hats, or lip balm on days with higher UV. The authors write that guests at ski areas should be encouraged to use sunscreen on cloudy days because UV is still high.

"It becomes quite clear that UV exposure varies among skiers but is still significant even on cloudy days. It is also clear that skiers, while motivated perhaps by prior experiences of painful burns, are more likely to apply sun protection when the sun is shining. Both of these points are derived from well-presented data and permit the dermatologist to quote this study as they counsel their patient specifically about what to do on their ski vacation to reduce their risk of future skin cancers, especially the recommendation to use sun protection on cloudy days," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

A co-author disclosed financial relationships with a number of pharmaceutical companies.

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