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Sunscreen Use Dip in Teenagers, Report Finds

Update Date: Aug 22, 2014 11:47 AM EDT

Despite the warnings from health officials regarding the dangers of exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, a new report found that fewer teenagers are using sunscreen. The report also found that teens' use of indoor tanning beds during the same time frame fell slightly.

"High school years are important years that can impact the future," lead researcher Corey Basch, an associate professor in the department of public health at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J said reported by HealthDay. "High school students are starting to make decisions for themselves. This research and other research suggest that adolescents continue to put themselves at risk."

For this report, the researchers gathered information on sunscreen and indoor tanning use from a sample of high school teens by using the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. They found that from 2001 to 2011, the rate of teens that used sunscreen declined from 67.7 percent to 56.1 percent. The report also found that rate of teens that used indoor tanning booths fell from 37 percent in 2009 to 29 percent in 2011.

"Using sun-protective behaviors like applying sunscreen and avoiding intentional exposure to tanning devices will be key [to lowering cancer risk]," Basch stressed.

The researchers are unsure why fewer teenagers are wearing sunscreen. Health experts believe that efforts to increase awareness and education about the dangers of sun exposure will need to be improved. The best sunscreen products offer protection against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be applied everyday if people are venturing outside of their homes. For people who are spending hours outdoors, sunscreen should be reapplied.

"The bottom line is that skin cancer is largely preventable," Dr. Jeanine Daly, a dermatologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, NY commented. "The most important thing to remember about sunscreen is that it doesn't last very long."

Basch added, according to FOX News, "What we really need is to change the mindset that having this artificially tanned skin is attractive."

The study, "Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001-2011," was published in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.

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