A new study carried out by researchers at Ben-Gurion Univeristy’s Faculty of Health Sciences and the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management has shown that stressing the aging effects from sun exposure is more effective than talking about skin cancer and melanoma.
Sun worshippers who care more about getting a tan to look attractive than the danger of skin cancer are more likely to beware if reminded that long-term tanning produces ugly wrinkles.
The team decided to create a databank of information that would contribute to advancing healthy behavior and reduce skin cancer rates in Israel. To understand when and how the individual regards sun exposure as dangerous, they conducted 31 interviews in a representative sample of adults. The second stage of their research was based on 353 questionnaires.
They concluded that whether to expose one’s skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays depended on the judgment and personal feelings of the individual. In addition, women are especially worried about the aesthetics of their skin and therefore can be persuaded to minimize tanning to escape needless wrinkles.
Those interviewed developed their own self-assessment mechanism on how much they have been exposed to the sun. The first measure was when they feel the sun’s warmth and define it as “burning” or “too hot.” Thus, for example, those in air conditioned or shaded areas don’t feel the heat and think they are protected. In the second, they see redness or sunburn on their skin. In the third, they are exposed at the beach or swimming pool between noon and 4 p.m.
Researchers say analysis indicates the existence of three distinct patterns. When exposed to the sun during daily routines, those interviewed almost didn’t bother to protect themselves from the sun. When they went to the beach or pool, they regarded sun exposure as being dangerous and automatically sought to protect themselves. When they were on vacation abroad at the beach or pool, they spent an extended amount of time in the sun so they could return with a tan to show they had a “good time.”
Many interviewees said they were not afraid of skin cancer and that it affects mostly older people. The researchers said that the public shows “relative responsibility” at the beach or pool but “irresponsibility” during their daily routines. They also advised that anti-cancer education efforts stress not only cancer risks but also skin damage that causes aging.
Photo by Jemingway