Free shipping on all orders over $50  |  Play smart. Play safe. Non-toxic suncare

Are College Students Putting Themselves At Risk for Skin Cancer?

by kelly / January, 6 2021 01:30

Photo of college students with backpacks walking on campus

Many of us spend our youth breaking rules and while some rules are meant to be broken, we think wearing sunscreen isn’t one of them – it helps prevent skin cancer and skin aging. Unfortunately, a recent study out of Brigham Young University (BYU) found that an astounding number of college students don’t use sunblock at all.

Too Cool For Sunscreen

A new study published in the November-December edition of the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association found that just 9.5% of college students surveyed used sunscreen. This number then drops to 7.2% in the winter. I must admit, I didn’t use sunscreen when in college, so I can’t blame them but it’s something I wish I had known about back then.

The study called “Sunscreen and Tanning Bed Use in High-Risk College-Age Students” interviewed 673 BYU over the course of 2017.

It also found that 12.6% of students overall and 15.8% in the winter used tanning beds. Sadly indoor tanning exposes people to high level of UV radiation which contributes to skin cancer.

So I don’t think the results are surprising – as I said, I didn’t use sunscreen in college. On top of that, it seems like our younger selves were all prone to taking more risks. Sunscreen is just one of those things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to make part of my daily routine.

High Altitude, High Risk

What’s particularly disheartening about the study is that students at BYU are at a higher risk due to the high altitude of their school in Utah.

As lead author and MD candidate at the University of Utah Emily M. Graham explains: “that’s especially concerning in Utah, which has the highest incidence of melanoma in the country.”

Again, I don’t think these results are surprising. Even today I don’t always think to myself, “hmmm…I’m at higher altitude so I should do X, Y, and Z.” I’m sure there are some folks who do remember to do this but I also believe most, including myself, don’t.

That’s why I think making sunscreen a regular part of your morning routine is ideal. It’s simple, it’s quick, and you don’t really have to think about it. Just plop down a bottle of sunscreen on your bathroom counter and use it every day.

Start Wearing Sunscreen Early

The best advice I can give is sunblock is for everyone. Not just for those of us in our 30s, 40s (me!), and beyond. Ideally everyone should be wearing sunscreen everyday as early as possible. The sooner the better as the effects of sun damage are cumulative. So all that sun you get at a young age accumulates and shows up as skin damage in your 40s, 50s, and 60s.

As far as skin cancer – and unlike most cancers – according to the Skin Cancer Foundation it is for the most part preventable with proper sun protection. While there’s no way to completely eliminate the risk, sun protection is a big help.

Suncare Smarts

So for all my college students out there, think of sunscreen like brushing your teeth. It’s something you just have to do every morning.

For even more smart suncare tips check out our Suncare Smarts blog series.

Tags: , , , ,

blog comments powered by Disqus