People, like college athletes, use less or no sunscreen in spite of staying under direct sunlight for long hours.
College athletes who participate in outdoor sports spend a significant amount of time practicing and competing in direct sun , often during peak hours. Because they are spending so much time in the sun, they have a high risk for developing skin cancer, yet few of them regularly use any form of sunscreen, according to a recent study.
The research was published in the latest issue of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
The study looked at the sunscreen use of female and male athletes on soccer and cross-country teams from four Cincinnati area colleges. Anonymous surveys were distributed during sunny weeks in the months of August and September. The athletes practiced from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during August and had practices and competitions scheduled between the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during September.
One hundred eighty six athletes completed the survey, 89 women and 97 men. A majority, 85 percent, reported that they did not use sunscreen in the past seven days, and 94 percent had not used any sunscreen in the previous three days. There were not any significant differences in sunscreen use between gender and sport, or among ages, school years or schools. Athletes who reported that they were fair skinned did use sunscreen more than athletes who reported that they had darker skin. None of the athletes reported that they reapplied sunscreen during practice.
When asked why they didn't use sunscreen, many athletes responded that they thought they did not need sunscreen because they had dark skin. Another reason they cited for not using sunscreen was that there was none available.
The study's authors advocate for the development of coordinated skin cancer prevention programs that specifically target college athletes. Such programs could reach more than 250,000 athletes each year and could have a major impact on reducing the number of skin cancers that these athletes are at risk for developing.