Majority of Americans don't use sunscreen, study reveals

Majority of Americans don't use sunscreen, study reveals

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SALT LAKE CITY — Just under 10,000 Americans will die of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — this year alone. But the majority of people in the U.S. still don’t use sunscreen, according to a new study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, used data from a 2013 survey about daily sunscreen use, according to Science Daily.

The results: Only 14 percent of men surveyed reported using sunscreen when they’ve been in the sun for more than an hour. Women were a bit more judicious — about 30 percent reported regular application.

When it comes to the face, however, women appear to care a bit more. About 43 percent reported regular sunscreen use there.

“Women may be more likely to use sunscreen on the face because of the anti-aging benefits, or because of the many cosmetic products on the market that contain sunscreen,” study lead Dawn Holman told Science Daily. “However, it’s important to protect your whole body from the sun, not just your face.”

Only 18 percent reported sunscreen use on their faces. Men were also far less likely to use sunscreen, in general, with nearly 44 percent reporting they never used it. That’s compared to 27 percent of women who skipped the Coppertone.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Congress passed the Sunscreen Innovation Act — which requires the FDA to speed up its review of more effective sunscreen ingredients — last fall, no new-and-improved sunscreens have hit the U.S. market, according to The Washington Post.

The hope is to get those sunscreens on the market by this summer, but the FDA rejected eight pending applications, claiming the companies proposing the ingredients didn’t provide enough data to prove the materials were safe, The Post reported.

The lack of action has frustrated lawmakers, skin cancer advocates and consumers alike.

“Why do you do continue to delay in taking action? Some of those applications have been pending for 12 years,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), the main backer of the Sunscreen Innovation Act, asked FDA officials at a hearing last month, The Post reported.

FDA officials maintain they’re frustrated too, but they can’t risk putting a potentially unsafe ingredient on the market without enough information.

“We’re very committed to doing our part to provide consumers with additional options, but the sponsors also have to do their part to provide safety and efficacy data,” FDA rep Theresa Michele told The Post.

According to the study, 80 percent of sunscreen users said they used products with an SPF of 15 or higher. Sixty percent used a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

“Anyone can get skin cancer, so everyone should take steps to protect themselves from the sun,” dermatologist Mark Lebwohl told Science Daily. “Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays, both of which can cause cancer.”

On its website, the American Academy of Dermatology offers a full list of tips on how to stay safe in the sun. Among those tips, apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you head outside, make sure you apply to all exposed areas of your body and reapply at least every two hours.

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Jessica Ivins


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