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Misinformation about sunscreen, skin cancer hits young adults

Online survey shows many don’t wear sunscreen regularly or believe that suntans cause cancer

May 31, 2024

IN THE NEWS: An emerging trend is worrying skin cancer experts: Young adults are not concerned about protecting themselves from the sun.

TheNewYorkTimes_136x91A recent online survey of more than 1,000 people by the American Academy of Dermatology found that 28% of respondents ages 18 to 26 didn’t believe that suntans cause skin cancer. Another 37% only put on sunscreen when they were nagged to do so. UCI Health dermatologist Dr. Melissa Shive, who was not involved with the survey, spoke to The New York Times about the lack of knowledge about the sun’s harmful effects.

“There’s a component of young people just being young people. But young adults are often unaware of what sun damage looks like and how best to prevent it.”

Shive recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF daily, wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when outdoors. She also advises monitoring your skin for suspicious changes, such as asymmetrical moles, moles that change shape or have an unusual color.

Shive is a dermatologist at UCI Health Dermatology Services and an assistant professor of dermatology at the UCI School of Medicine. She is also the co-director of the fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery and dermatologic oncology, as well as the co-director of dermatology surgery.

Among Shive’s clinical interests are advanced surgical treatment of skin cancers, such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, as well as more rare tumor types. She is the author or co-author of dozens of research papers and book chapters in her field and has given presentations at numerous regional and national academic conferences.

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