Millennial behaviors are linked to a startling increase in skin cancer rates in a recent study.
Whether you call them “Digital Natives”, “Echo Boomers” or the “Gen Y,” the generation born between 1981 and 1996 needs to learn the warning signs of skin cancer, and society needs to find new ways to help them get the message, according to a new study from a researcher at Oregon State University.
Dr. Amy Watson and her fellow researchers found that Millennials lack knowledge about the importance of sunscreen and continue to tan outdoors, in part, because of low self-esteem and excessive interest in appearance. It’s understandable given the rise in social media – millennials are highly aware that a camera may be aimed their way at any given time.
This is line with previous studies that found people with low self-esteem are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as tanning to improve self-image.
In fact, most of the college students surveyed by Dr. Watson’s team had a failing grade when it came to understanding SPF (hint: rhymes with “Fun Protection Factor”), and the importance of sun protection. And even those who scored high on sun knowledge didn’t necessarily improve their sun-safety behaviors.
The study published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs suggests that simply providing education about the risks of tanning and ways to protect against skin cancer aren’t likely to be effective in the adolescent and young adult age groups that are tanning.
So…how to sound smart when you’re lounging around the pool
Drop this factoid: “More people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other skin cancers (wait for it)…COMBINED.”
And when you’re ready for the mic drop, say
“About 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with radiation from the sun.”
And when you really want to lay it on thick…….
The survey showed that few of the Millennial students surveyed knew that they needed to apply an ounce of sunscreen – yep, about the size of a shot glass – for proper coverage. And once is not enough. Sunscreen, like so many other things in life, is not made to last forever. If you have a long day in the sun, set your timer for 80 minutes and repeat as needed.
What does it the survey mean to you if you’re a Millennial or one of those letter-perfect Gen X or Gen Z’ers? It means you’re not invincible and that you’re at risk of becoming one of the 5.5 million people in the U.S. who will develop skin cancer in 2019. TAKE. IT. SERIOUSLY.
If you still think you need to tan to look good, repeat after me “Tanned skin is damaged skin and damaged skin is ugly.” After you’re done chanting, contact Midwest Dermatology and make an appointment for yourself (or your favorite Millennial) for an annual skin cancer screening