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Knowledge of High Skin Cancer Risk Might Modify Risky Behaviors

Those at high risk of skin cancer accurately assessed risk and reported lower likelihood of future tanning bed use

TUESDAY, Feb. 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Knowledge of skin cancer risk may influence risky behaviors, including the use of tanning beds, according to a study published in the January issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

Naiara S. Barbosa, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a mailed survey to assess local Minnesota residents’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding skin cancer and tanning bed use and to estimate the prevalence of high risk for melanoma. Surveys were mailed to 886 local residents (549 individuals aged 18 to 39 years; 337 individuals aged 40 years and older).

The researchers found that 55 percent of the younger group and 37 percent of the older group had used indoor tanning. According to a skin cancer risk calculator, the prevalence of high risk for melanoma was 18 percent in the younger group and 33 percent in the older group. Respondents with high risk scores were more likely to correctly perceive their higher risk for skin cancer. Among participants with high risk scores and those who previously used tanning beds, most reported a low likelihood of future indoor tanning.

“It was nice to see that having an accurate perception of skin cancer and a perceived high risk of skin cancer development was associated with a less chance of tanning bed use within the next year,” a coauthor said in a statement. “More studies would help clarify some of the questions regarding skin cancer risk, perceived risk, and what accurately predicts behavior modification pertaining to skin cancer development.”

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