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Many Melanoma Survivors Continue to Go Tanning, Don't Wear Sunscreen

Update Date: Apr 08, 2013 02:05 PM EDT

We all know that we should wear sunscreen, stay in the shade and avoid tanning bans. Our doctors and mothers have all told us so. Regardless, many people eschew the warnings, especially during the summer time. A recent study reveals that tendency to avoid protective measures like sunscreen is even true of survivors of the deadliest form of skin cancer.

According to Today, the researchers from Yale University used data from the 2010 National Health Interview Study. Of the 27,000 people who responded to the survey, 171 had previously been diagnosed with melanoma.

Survivors of melanoma tend to be more prudent than the rest of us when protecting their skin. According to USA Today, 32 percent of these adults used sunscreen all the time, compared to 17 percent of the general population. They are also more likely to stay in the shade, wear hats and long sleeves when in the sun and avoid tanning beds.

Still, many researchers are troubled by the other data that they collected. As they stated at a conference for the American Association for Cancer Research, 15.4 percent of melanoma survivors reported that they rarely or never stayed in the shade, 27.3 percent said that they never wore sunscreen and, most troublingly, 2.1 percent said that they had used a tanning bed during the previous year.

Many researchers believe that the finding indicate that tanning may be an addiction, comparing melanoma survivors who use tanning beds with lung cancer sufferers who continue to smoke cigarettes. Indeed, many people with addictions rationalize their behavior with excuses, even if they know that they are false.

Some researchers also suggest that melanoma survivors may feel invincible, especially those who received a diagnosis at a young age. Oftentimes, if skin cancer is caught early, it is easy to cure. However, researchers note that sufferers of melanoma have a risk that is nine times greater than other people at developing melanoma again.

Other experts cite the study as proof that humans instinctively seek out sunlight in an effort to receive Vitamin D. This tendency is even more apparent, as people of European ancestry, who are particularly sensitive to ultraviolet rays, have moved to sunny locales like Australia, California and Israel.

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