Dying for a suntan this summer?

Half the battle in knowing how to properly protect yourself from skin cancer is being able to separate fact from fiction. Unfortunately, some myths about tanning and sun protection are deep rooted and could mislead people into thinking that tanning is safe – when, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

A new survey by the American Academy of Dermatology sets the record straight on some of the most common myths and what people believe to be true about tanning and sun protection.

The “Suntelligence: How Sun Smart is Your City?” online survey polled more than 7,000 adults nationwide to determine their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors toward tanning, sun protection and skin cancer detection.

“Our survey showed that despite our repeated warnings about the dangers of UV exposure and the importance of proper sun protection, many people could not correctly answer true/false statements on the subject,” said dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, MD, FAAD, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C.

Examples of the myths included in the survey include:

  • Some types of ultraviolet (UV) rays are safe for your skin?
    • The survey found that only about one-third of respondents correctly answered false to this question.
  • Getting a base tan is a healthy way to protect skin from sun damage?
    • Less than half the respondents knew this statement was false.
  • It is smarter to tan indoors using a tanning bed?
    • 63% of respondents knew that this statement was false.
  • A sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 provides twice the protection as an SPF 15?
    • Only 21% of respondents knew this statement was not true.  Contrary to popular belief, UVB protection from the sun’s burning rays does not actually increase proportionately with a designated SPF number. For example, an SPF of 30 screens 97 percent of UVB rays, whereas an SPF of 15 screens 93 percent of UVB rays, and an SPF of 2 screens 50 percent of UVB rays.

You can visit www.melanomamonday.org to take the Academy’s “Suntelligence” survey, as well as to find out how to perform a skin self-exam or find free skin cancer screenings in your area.

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