Not Enough Men Getting the Message on Sunscreen

Most magazine ads are geared toward women, study finds

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MONDAY, May 29, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- American males aren't getting or heeding warnings on sun protection, researchers report, with the bulk of magazine ads for sunscreen appearing in publications aimed at women, not men.

A new U.S. study shows that 77 percent of the 783 sunscreen ads reviewed were published in women's magazines.

Researchers reviewed 579 magazines -- all May to September issues from 1997 to 2002 for 24 different publications.

While the average was about four ads for sunscreen per women's magazine, the average was less than one in each issue of parenting and family magazines. The average in outdoor and recreation magazines typically read by men was less than one per six issues.

"There's a huge opportunity to reach an untapped market," Alan Geller, an associate professor of research with the Boston University School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. The ads should also better explain how to properly use sunscreen and other sun-care products, he said, as none of the ads contained the recommended guidelines for appropriate use of sunscreen.

His team published their findings in the May/June issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

"We know that men know much less about sun protection than women," Geller said, adding that "research has shown us that many, many people use sun protection products and still get burned." These advertisements provide a good opportunity to educate people on how to use sunscreen properly, he added.

"With my contacts, I've argued that advertising and communications should go on in boating, tennis and golf magazines," David J. Leffell, a professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. Leffell was not involved in the study, but consults for a large U.S. manufacturer of sun-care products.

The results of the study show a need for working relationships between product marketing departments and advocates for skin cancer prevention, as well as more ads geared toward "potentially higher-risk groups such as children, men and outdoor recreation users," said Geller.

More information

For more on protecting your skin from the sun, head to the American Cancer Society.

Source: Health Behavior News Service, news release, May 5, 2006

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