Bad Sun Habits Increases Risk of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer In Millennials, Gen Z

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A new survey found that neither generation is particularly good at maintaining healthy sun habits, and have low skin cancer awareness.

Millennials and Gen Xers are not following safe sun habits.

According to a press release,1 a recent survey found that these demographics have few sun exposure regrets coupled with low skin cancer awareness.

The random double-opt insurvey, conducted by Onepoll on behalf of DermTech, Inc., revealed trends in exposure and awareness as part of DermTech’s Sun Regrets campaign. These results and behaviors can lead to an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers.

“The good news is that millennials and Gen Xers are concerned about how much sun they are getting, but they still aren’t following key steps to ensure they protect their skin, such as wearing sunscreen year-round and remembering to put sunscreen on all areas that are exposed to the sun,” said Elizabeth Hale, MD, in the press release. Hale is a board-certified dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center.

“This survey shows there is a lot of room for education when it comes to nonmelanoma skin cancer,” Hale said.

The survey amassed 2000 respondents, including millennials (ages 26 to 41) and Gen Xers (ages 42 to 57).

Of these respondents, less than half (n=44%) felt knowledgeable about skin cancer of any kind. This number was even lower with respect to nonmelanoma skin cancers. 16% felt knowledgeable about basal cell carcinoma, 14% felt knowledgeable about squamous cell carcinoma, and as few as 10% felt knowledgeable about actinic keratosis.

Despite 78% of all respondents admitting to having gone outside on a sunny day without SPF protection and 53% saying they do not use sunscreen at all, 29% said they were unlikely to get a skin cancer screening in the absence of skin changes.

Furthermore, less than half of respondents (n=37% millennials; n=45% Gen Xers) were aware that prolonged sun exposure could lead to precancerous lesions. 36% of all total respondents knew that slow-healing, open sores could be a sign of a cancerous lesion.

“While respondents are aware of the different types of skin cancer, including basal and squamous cell carcinomas, respondents acknowledge that they aren’t as informed as they would like,” said Loren Clarke, MD, on behalf of DermTech. Clarke is a board-certified pathologist and dermatopathologist and DermTech’s chief medical officer.

“As nonmelanoma skin cancer is one of the most common types of skin cancer, it is imperative that we build awareness of what skin cancers look like and how to prevent them,” Clarke said.

This article originally appeared on Dermatology Times.

Reference

  1. New survey finds millennials and Gen Xers not following safe sun habits, increasing risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Business Wire. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230405005007/en/New-Survey-Finds-Millennials-and-Gen-Xers-Not-Following-Safe-Sun-Habits-Increasing-Risk-of-Nonmelanoma-Skin-Cancer. Published April 5, 2023. Accessed April 7, 2023.
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