News on Wellness

Sunscreen: Risk of Sun Exposure Ignored by Teenagers

teen-sunscreenFor years, the public has been warned of the dangers associated with excessive sun exposure. While everyone spends time in the sun, too much of a good thing increases serious risk for developing health-related problems to include benign tumors, dilation of small blood vessels beneath the skin, destruction of collagen and elastic tissue, and more importantly, pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions.

To protect the skin, manufacturers have come out with increasingly powerful sunscreen products, which have also been proven to dramatically reduce risk. However, new information released shows that the number of teenagers taking sun damage risk seriously has declined, evidenced in the decreased number of people using protective sunscreen.

In fact, according to newly released information, there was a 12% decline over the past ten years in the number of teenagers using sunscreen. It was also revealed that during this same timeframe, there was only a very slight reduction in the number of teenagers using tanning beds as a means of getting bronzed skin. This combination is extremely dangerous in that it increases the risk for different types of skin cancer, which includes the potentially deadly melanoma.

According to Corey Basch, lead researcher and associate professor in the William Paterson University’s department of public health, the number of teenagers who use sunscreen dropped from the reported 67.7% in 2001 to 56.1% in 2011. She went on to explain that not applying sunscreen and spending more time outdoors will play a key role in an increased number of confirmed cancer cases for the future.

It was also discovered that the number of girls who use tanning beds declined by only a slight margin, going from 37% in 2009 to 29% in 2011. Although the exact reasons there are now more teens tanning without any type of sunscreen protection remains a mystery although experts agree additional research is needed in the near future to find a definitive answer.

One of the biggest challenges is that unlike small children with parents who apply sunscreen, teenagers make a lot of decisions on their own, some of them not the right decisions. As stated by Jeanine Daly, a top dermatologist at North Shore LIJ Health Systems in New York, it is quite shocking that so many teenagers do not protect the skin despite all the warnings. After all, “It’s still in vogue to have that suntanned color”.

The message is clear – the number of teenagers making the right decision by applying sunscreen has declined, which in turn increases the risk of cancer and other health-related problems. Unfortunately, the message about excessive sun exposure causing skin cancer is still not sinking in, a particular problem among young teenage girls.

It is important that teenagers understand the dangers of excessive sun exposure but also the benefits of using sunscreen. However, the product should contain zinc, which has the ability to offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays. In addition, sunscreen should be applied at minimum every two hours because it wears off quickly due to perspiration and time spent in the water.

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