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Rural Residents Less Likely to Use Sunscreen

However, rural-urban differences in sunscreen use could be explained by confounding factors

THURSDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- Rural residents are less likely than urban residents to use sunscreen, but this may be explained by confounding factors such as differences in age and income, according to a study in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Whitney E. Zahnd, of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, and colleagues assessed the 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey to determine whether rural residents are less likely than urban residents to use sunscreen and other preventative skin cancer strategies, as well as evaluate whether living in a rural area alone explained such actions.

The researchers found that rural residents were 33 percent less likely than urban residents to wear sunscreen when they experienced more than one hour of sun exposure. However, rural individuals were just as likely as urban individuals to use sunscreen with sun exposure after the researchers adjusted for confounding variables such as age, race, income, education, health insurance, smoking, sex, marital status, and region.

"This study did have sufficient power to demonstrate clearly that rural individuals used less sunscreen than their urban counterparts. This reduced use of sunscreen, however, could be explained by known confounding risk factors for skin cancer and more aggressive disease, such as those who are male or uninsured," the authors write.

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