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Skin Cancer Risk Behaviors Common Among U.S. Adults

Infrequent use of protective clothing, sunscreen widespread; many report recent sunburn

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Behaviors that raise the risk of skin cancer are widespread in America, with most individuals engaging in multiple risky behaviors, including infrequent use of sunscreen and protective clothing, according to research published in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Elliot J. Coups, Ph.D., of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed data from 28,235 participants in the 2005 National Health Interview Survey, who did not have a personal history of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer and provided information on five skin cancer risk behaviors.

The most common risk behaviors were infrequent use of protective clothing and sunscreen. In young adults aged 18 to 29, more than 80 percent reported at least two risk behaviors; other common behaviors included sunburn in the past year, indoor tanning and staying in the sun while outside. People reporting more risk behaviors were more likely younger, Midwestern and non-Hispanic white.

"Identification of high-risk groups is particularly relevant to the primary care setting, where limited time is available for preventive counseling and rates of assessment and counseling for skin cancer risk behaviors are low. Further, the current results suggest that individuals reporting one skin cancer risk behavior should be assessed for other skin cancer risks. A comprehensive approach to skin cancer risk prevention requires attention to multiple skin cancer risk behaviors that are common in the U.S. population," the authors conclude.

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