Background: The incidence of all types of skin cancer has increased over the past 3 decades in the United States. Increased skin cancer risk is associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This study examined the age-stratified prevalence and correlates of multiple skin cancer risk behaviors (infrequent use of sun-protective clothing, staying in the sun when outside on a sunny day, infrequent use of sunscreen, indoor tanning, and receiving a sunburn) among U.S. adults.
Methods: 28,235 adults participating in the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) answered questions regarding sun-protection behaviors, indoor tanning in the past year, and sunburns in the past year. Examined correlates included geographic location, demographics, healthcare access, BMI, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use, melanoma family history, perceived cancer risk, skin sensitivity to the sun, and receipt of a total skin exam.
Results: The most commonly reported skin cancer risk behaviors were infrequent use of sun-protective clothing and infrequent use of sunscreen. The majority of individuals reported multiple skin cancer risk behaviors. Although significant correlates varied according to age, individuals reporting more risk behaviors were more likely younger, residing in the Midwest, male, non-Hispanic white, less-educated, smokers, risky drinkers, and had skin that was less sun-sensitive.
Conclusions: The majority of the U.S. population engage in multiple skin cancer risk behaviors. A comprehensive approach to skin cancer prevention requires attention to multiple skin cancer risk behaviors that are common in the U.S. population.