Unhealthy Tans: U.S. Kids Less Likely to Use Sunscreen

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Fewer American kids are using sunscreen and too many are hitting the tanning salon in an unhealthy bid to be browner, U.S. health experts reported Thursday.

The latest survey shows a worrying drop in the proportion of high school students using sunscreen, from more than two-thirds — 67.7 percent — in 2001 to 56 percent in 2011. And even though the federal government warns that indoor tanning raises skin cancer risk, more than 29 percent of white girls still used them in 2011.

“These findings indicate the need for prevention efforts aimed at adolescents to reduce risks for skin cancer,” Corey Basch of William Paterson University in New Jersey and colleagues report in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. “Skin-protection behaviors are especially important for children and adolescents because sun exposure during childhood and adolescence directly influences the development of skin cancer later in life,” they wrote. The incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been rising by more than 1 percent a year since 2001.



— Maggie Fox