West Palm Beach - A middle school research project, titled 'Sun Safe in the Middle School Years', details of which are available in the January issue of "Pediatrics", was undertaken to stress the importance of educating teenagers about the risks of skin cancer. The importance of using sun protection as a tool to offset the risk of skin cancer was the keynote of the project.
It is observed that maximum sun exposure happens during the teenage years, and even one severe sun burn before the age of 20, doubles the risk of skin cancer. The study, which tracked teens for two years, showed the distinct advantage of teens that have undergone sun-safety education, over those who didn't in the use of sun protection devices.
The project sought the co-operation of schools, parents, healthcare professionals and sports program coaches. The study also established that the success of such endeavors was largely dependant on the co-operation of all these people, in helping teenagers adopt sun safety measures.
The 'Primary Care Practice Manual' which was published during the project has said that reducing exposure to the sun can cause a decline in 90% of skin cancers. The middle school years, an especially important time to inculcate healthy habits, is a crucial time to enable information regarding the risks of sun exposure.
It is imperative that healthcare providers advice teenagers as well as parents and coaches about protecting teenagers from the sun. Presently, only about one-third of physicians really advise teenagers about sun safety.