Background: Denmark has experienced an increase in melanoma incidence since the 1960s. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the main preventable cause of this cancer. We examined current travel to, and sun-related behaviour of Danes at, sunny destinations in relation to their risk for sunburn.
Method: A population-based sample of 11,158 respondents aged 15-59 years completed three questionnaires in 2007-2009 that included items on exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Using logistic regression analysis we examined the relations between sunny vacations, sun-related behaviour, demographic factors and risk for sunburn.
Results: During 2007-2009, 44.8-45.8% of the respondents travelled to a sunny destination at least once a year; 24% became sunburnt, and 69% tanned intentionally. The odds ratio for sunburn in general for people who went on a sunny vacation as compared with those who did not was 1.6 (1.5-1.7). Sunscreen use (1.9; 1.4-2.6) and intentional tanning (3.4; 2.8-4.1) were positively associated with sunburn on vacation.
Conclusions: Taking a vacation in a sunny place is a risk factor for sunburn, especially for young people. The recommendation for sunscreen use should be re-evaluated, as intention to tan is the most important factor in sunburn on vacation and should be targeted more strategically.