Neutrogena, actress Gabrielle Union aim to dispel skin cancer myths

LOS ANGELES — Neutrogena and actress Gabrielle Union are urging people to make skin cancer prevention part of their daily, year-round routines on the heels of a recent national survey that found just 13% of all women in the United States wear sunscreen on a daily basis.

The survey, commissioned by Neutrogena and executed by Harris Interactive, also showed that 56% of women surveyed believe the growing rate in skin cancer is due to lack of education. Additionally, among those who have ever used sunscreen, 76% of white women and 63% of Hispanic women use it to protect themselves from skin cancer, compared with just 46% of African-American women. 

A common belief is that darker skin tones offer a natural barrier from the sun's damaging rays. However, these myths can often lead to lax and dangerous sun safety behaviors. Committed to eradicating skin cancer, Neutrogena is dedicated to help save lives through year-round prevention, education and protection efforts.

Furthermore, the recent survey reveals that while 76% of all women believe daily sunscreen use is important in helping prevent skin cancer, the average woman does not begin using it until she is nearly 30, long after significant skin damage has already been done. As Union aims to help spread the importance of sun safe behaviors, Neutrogena seeks to educate women by dispelling common skin cancer myths, such as:

  • I am not at risk of getting skin cancer from sun exposure, because my routine (e.g., work, drive to work, indoor hobbies and vacations) doesn't include any outdoor activities. 
Dermatologists find that brief sun exposures throughout the year can add up to significant damage for everyone, especially those with fair skin.

  • SPF 30 is all the SPF protection I need; anything higher is all the same. 
If you do not apply enough sunscreen (1 oz. for your body and 1 tablespoon for your face) or you apply your sunscreen incorrectly, it may result in a lower SPF than the labeled protection level. Higher SPF sunscreens also provide additional sunburn protection under extreme UV conditions. If you think you may under-apply sunscreen, you should look for an SPF 50 or higher sunscreen with proven Helioplex technology for best protection.

  • An annoying mole or sore that won't go away is just that — annoying, nothing to worry about. 
Sometimes what people may perceive as an annoying sore that will not go away, or a mole that has changed in size or color, is actually something more serious and possibly an early form of skin cancer. An annual skin cancer screening is necessary to identify cancer in its early stages. Neutrogena and the ASDS urge people to take skin health seriously and sign up for a free skin cancer screening with a dermatologist in their community at Chooseskinhealth.com.

  • A tanning bed is safer than UV rays from the sun. 
Exposure to the ultraviolet light from tanning beds can impact your skin in a variety of ways — including wrinkles, sun spots and freckles. If you are seeking a tanned appearance, consider sunless tanning products like Neutrogena MicroMist Tanning Sunless Spray, a no-rub, hands-free aerosol spray that provides streak-free, all-over tan without damaging skin.

  • Dark-skinned men and women are not at risk for sun damage and skin cancer.
 Though naturally dark-skinned people have a much lower risk of skin cancer than fair-toned people, this does not make them immune to skin cancer. Interestingly, among those who have ever used sunscreen, 76% of white women and 63% of Hispanic women use it to protect themselves from skin cancer, compared with just 46% of African-American women. Cases of skin cancer in people with darker skin are often not detected until later stages, when it is more dangerous. The overall melanoma survival rate for African-Americans is only 77%, versus 91% for Caucasians.

  • Since summer is almost over and the sun isn't as strong, I don't need to wear sunscreen every day. Sun's harmful rays are as deadly during the colder seasons as they are during summer. In fact, even under cloud cover, it is possible for the sun to harm your skin and eyes, so it is important to protect yourself with sunscreen, sunglasses and protective clothing even in cloudy weather.

  • Only UVB radiation can cause skin damage. 
Both UVA and UVB rays cause sunburns and damaging effects, such as skin cancer. UVB rays account for 80% of the sun's damage and UVA for 20%, so look for a sunscreen that protects from both, called "broad-spectrum." Not all broad-spectrum sunscreens are equally effective, however. For the best in sun protection, look for broad-spectrum sunscreens with at least SPF 30, especially those with proven sunscreen technology like Helioplex that are formulated with the ideal balance of UVA and UVB filters.

  • Teenagers and young people don't have to worry about skin cancer. It only affects older adults.
 Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in young adults ages 25 to 29 years. It is also increasing faster in women ages 15 to 29 years than in men of the same age group.

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