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Study highlights need for increased sun protection education among men

SHELTON, Conn. — Men older than 50 years of age are more than twice as likely as women to develop and die from melanoma, yet many men admit to not using sunscreen, and even more report not knowing what skin cancer warning signs to look for, according to the results of a survey released by the Skin Cancer Foundation in partnership with the makers of Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreens.

The survey results reveal that nearly half (49%) of men in the United States admit to not using sunscreen in the past 12 months, and 70% of men don't even know what skin cancer warning signs to look for. In almost every case, men prove to be less knowledgeable than women about the proper methods to protect themselves against sun exposure and skin cancer. The survey was fielded online among 1,000 male and female respondents.

"These results are especially concerning when we consider that men over age 50 are more than twice as likely as women to develop and die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer," stated Joshua Zeichner, a spokesman for the Skin Cancer Foundation and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Reports show that 58% of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed this year will be men versus 42% in women."

The survey also revealed that men typically do not follow recommended sunscreen usage guidelines. For example:

  • The vast majority of male sunscreen users (79%) are not aware that the recommended amount of sunscreen to use per application is 1 oz.;

  • A significant majority of men (61%) mistakenly believe that one sunscreen application protects skin for at least four hours, even though the recommended reapplication is every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating; and

  • Only 32% of men consider themselves extremely or very knowledgeable about how to properly use sunscreen to get adequate protection.

In addition, nearly two-thirds (64%) of men believe (or are unsure if) women need more sunscreen than they do, because of their misconception that female skin is more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

The survey results also showed a lack of skin cancer awareness among men. In fact, 85% of men are unaware that they are more likely to die of melanoma than women. Additional findings about men and skin cancer awareness include:

  • 70% of male respondents admitted they don't know how to perform a skin cancer self-exam or what to look for;

  • More than half (57%) of respondents stated they are unlikely to see a medical professional for a skin exam; and

  • 26% of men realize that the chest and back are the most common places on the body that men develop melanoma.

"The survey results confirm what I see in my practice every day: Men just aren't incorporating sun protection into their lives," Zeichner stated. "The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone adopt a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., covering up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, and wearing sunscreen every day. There is an obvious need for increased skin cancer awareness among men, and the Skin Cancer Foundation is actively working to better reach men with sun protection messages."

"We're working closely with our retail partners to explore at-shelf solutions that educate shoppers and ease confusion when selecting the right sunscreen for themselves or their families," stated Minna Raffin, director of Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreens.

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