Sun awareness measures are not followed by a large number of Europeans and non-Europeans increasing their risk of developing skin cancer
Sun awareness messages do not seem to register with patients and could potentially increase their risk of developing skin cancer according to the results of a survey conducted by La Roche-Posay and IPSOS and discussed at 31st EADV Congress.
The latest data suggests that 1.71% of the general European adult population reported having skin cancer, meaning that some 7,304,000 people are believed to have the disease. Now in data from a survey of 17,000 people from 17 countries, including 6,000 people from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Russia and North America and South, Africa, Oceania and Asia, the researchers pointed out that sun awareness messages do not appear to be followed by large numbers of people.
The results clearly demonstrated that there is a perpetuation of several “myths”. For example, 73% of Europeans said their tan was healthy, although among non-Europeans this figure fell to 59%. The majority of Europeans (80%) also believe that a tan is attractive, but again this perception is less common (67%) among non-Europeans. Perhaps more concerning is that although 92% of Europeans are aware of the risks of skin aging posed by the sun, 84% admit that they do not protect themselves all year round.
Other misconceptions that have highlighted either misunderstanding or willful ignoring of sun awareness messages include the fact that only 56% of Europeans knew that sun protection was useful when the weather was overcast. In fact, almost a quarter (24%) thought it was safe to go outside without sunscreen when they were already tanned. Additionally, only 1 in 10 Europeans (10%) said they regularly or often use all forms of sun protection, such as applying sunscreen, staying in the shade, wearing a hat and protective clothing all day. year, compared to 14% of those outside Europe.
Another disturbing finding was that although sun awareness of sun dangers was higher in at-risk groups (i.e. % still said they could not imagine returning from vacation without a tan.
Commenting on these results, lead researcher Professor Thierry Passeron said: “this research shows how entrenched the myth of a ‘healthy’ tan is – even among those who have already suffered sun damage or developed skin cancer.” He added how ‘we need to raise awareness of the damage to skin cells caused by sun exposure, which can lead to photoaging and skin cancer. This is particularly important in Europe where sun protection appears to be the most insufficient compared to other countries..’