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U.S. Culture Linked to Greater Sunscreen Use Among Latinos

But it has negative influence on U.S. Latinos use of shade, sun-protective clothing, study shows

FRIDAY, July 22, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- As melanoma rates have jumped nearly 29 percent among U.S. Latinos since 1992, their adoption of American cultural beliefs is associated with more sunscreen use, but not sun-protective clothing, new research finds.

"Acculturated Latinos might have increased exposure to sun safety information via health-care access, education and expanded social networks, but display decreased engagement in some sun-safe behaviors," the study authors wrote.

In conducting the study, published in the July issue of the Archives of Dermatology, researchers analyzed survey data from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and questioned 496 Latinos about sun-safe behavior, such as their use of sunscreen and whether or not they wore long-sleeved shirts and long pants or took shade for at least one hour when outside on sunny days. Researchers also asked them about their health-care access, educational level and social support networks.

The study found that acculturation, and how long they lived in the United States, may affect their efforts to avoid sun-related health problems.

The authors noted that social networks, such as support from friends and family as well as community and religious organizations, appeared to have the most overall influence on sun-safe behaviors among U.S. Latinos. Although acculturation had a positive influence on their use of sunscreen, there was a negative influence on their use of shade and sun-protective clothing.

The researchers concluded that because sun safety is critical for the prevention of skin cancer regardless of skin type, the findings could help public health officials develop specialized prevention programs for Latinos. They added that future research should focus on sun-safe behaviors other than sunscreen use.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about skin cancer prevention.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, July 18, 2011
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