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Sun-Protection Routines to Prevent Skin Cancer: Danish Population Study

By: Kelly M. Hennessey, PhD
Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Skin cancer is one of the most widespread cancers worldwide, and the majority of cases may be avoided using minimal intervention sun-protection routines, according to Peter Dalum, PhD, of the Danish Cancer Society, Denmark, and colleagues. Their results were published in PLOS One.

Participants in this randomized, controlled study were recruited from the Danish civil registration-based system and represented all Danish populations. The study examined the effectiveness of interventions to decrease sunburn by increasing the use of hats, shade, and sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. A total of 3,462 people agreed to participate in the study. A final sample of 1,227 people was randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups: those included using one of two different sun-protection routines, a combination of both protection routines, and a minimal treatment control. Study participants used a newly developed survey tool to complete a questionnaire validated by personal electronic ultraviolet (UV) measurements. According to the study authors, the tool makes it possible to evaluate skin cancer interventions without tracking skin cancer development.

The first sun-protection routine included a phone application with a skin type guide; participants received a description of their skin type and examples of when their particular skin type would resist the sun before skin redness would occur at specific UV levels. The second sun-protection routine provided instructions for the proper use of sunscreen, which describes every part of the body, the needed volume for that part, and application patterns. Participants also received a hat specifically designed for sun protection.

Researchers found no significant differences between the four cohorts regarding the sum of sun-burned areas and severity of UV exposure. However, the use of either sun-protection intervention (vs. no use) yielded higher scores on the overall protection scale and significant improvement in increased target behaviors between users and nonusers of the interventions.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit journals.plos.org.



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