How Skin-safe Is Your City?

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

— by Cate Stevenson, BA

Just recently, the American Academy of Dermatology polled over 7,000 adults in the U.S. The research team at the Academy wanted to find out people’s attitudes and behaviors with regard to three specific things: tanning; sun protection; and skin cancer detection. Once survey results were in, the researchers ranked 26 U.S. cities according to the study participants’ answers.

So who ranked in the top three? Hartford, Salt Lake City and Denver took those honors, respectively. The research team found that Hartford respondents excelled in their knowledge of sun protection and the risks associated with tanning, scoring above the average of adults overall. According to the researchers, only about one-third of respondents nationwide correctly answered the question that asked whether some types of ultraviolet (UV) rays are safe for your skin. How well did Hartford score on this question? Forty-two percent of Hartford respondents knew that the statement was not true and that all forms of UV radiation are harmful — whatever the source.

Another question that the top three aced was one which addressed the issue of skin cancer. Residents of Salt Lake City, Denver and Hartford all scored better than the national average when they disagreed with the statement that they are not too concerned about skin cancer because it is easily detected and treated.

Now, for the bottom of rankings: Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh all scored the lowest when it came to issues of sun protection and skin cancer risk. Interestingly, while most respondents did, in fact, express concern about skin cancer and had some awareness of the importance of proper sun protection, they did not alwa! ys follow through with the correct behaviors.

Skin cancer can be quite threatening to your health. It can be successfully treated if detected early, but the five-year survival rate for people with melanomas can be anywhere from 65% to as low as 16%.

It’s important for everyone to be vigilant about protecting their skin from sun exposure and to be aware of the early warning signs of skin cancer.

The research team at the Academy is hoping the results from this survey will draw attention to the public’s need to change its attitudes toward tanning and skin protection.

To minimize your risk of skin cancer, remember the following suggestions.

— Generously apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to all exposed skin. Broad-spectrum means that you will get protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

— Wear protective clothing — that means a long-sleeved shirt, pants and a wide-brimmed hat.

— Sit or stand in the shade when possible.

— Use extra caution near water, snow or sand, as they all reflect the damaging rays of the sun.

— Do a quick skin check. Look for anything that is changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin. See a dermatologist and remember that skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.