Most Americans Don’t Use Sunscreen – Don’t Be One of Them!

Most Americans don’t use sunscreen, study shows

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), writing in the May 19, 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology [1], have found that most Americans do not use sunscreen – and this at a time when the incidence of skin cancer has been increasing at an alarming rate, nearly doubling from 1994 to 2006, according to Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAAD, who presented treatment data for non-melanoma skin cancers at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology [2]*.

It’s not clear if this lack of sunscreen use has caused an increase in non-melanoma skin cancers – in fact, the National Cancer Institute has recently question the effectiveness of sunscreen in preventing cancer, both melanoma [3] and non-melanoma [4].

However, because these concerns about sunscreen’s effectiveness in preventing skin cancer could be based on inadequate experimental studies rather than any real ineffectiveness in prevention, it is ill-advised to go without sunscreen.

If you’re not using sunscreen, you should.

The American Academy of Dermatology “Sunscreen FQA” webpage [5] offers these tips for the most effective sunscreen use:

  • Make sure it offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, an SPF of 30 or greater, and is water resistant.
  • Use it every day, even on cloudy days, as up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate through cloud cover to reach your skin.
  • Use it on all exposed parts of your body, parts not covered by clothes.
  • Apply it to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
  • Re-apply it approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to the directions on the bottle.

*To make matters worse, among those Americans who do use sunscreen, less than half understand the definition of sun factor protection (SPF) and only 7% know how to tell how much protection a sunscreen product has against skin damage

Most Americans do not use sunscreen, for absolutely no good reason whatsoever, as far as anyone can tell.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology, “Sunscreen FAQ”

  1. Holman DM, Berkowitz Z, Guy GP Jr, Hawkins NA, Saraiya M, Watson M. Patterns of sunscreen use on the face and other exposed skin among US adults. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015 Jul; 73(1) :83-92 []
  2. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Incidence of skin cancer rising at alarming rate. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2011 []
  3. Interventions With Inadequate Evidence as to Whether They Reduce Risk of Melanoma. National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov, May 14, 2015 []
  4. Interventions With Inadequate Evidence as to Whether They Reduce Risk of Non-Melanoma. National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov, May 14, 2015 []
  5. American Academy of Dermatology “Sunscreen FAQs” []