Sun safety has become a big priority since the days of tanning accelerator and baby oil.
A study that was published in 2016 showed that parents are taking measures to protect their young children from the sun. We applaud you, moms and dads. Almost all parents in the study slathered sunscreen with high SPF on their children and instructed them to wear sunhats.
However, researchers found deficits in the children’s sun protection:
- Less attention was given to sun protective clothing, sunglasses and encouragement to stay in the shade.
- More parents are likely to protect their kids from UV rays on the beach than in other outdoor settings, even though the danger of UV exposure can be just as intense in everyday situations.
And here’s the real shocker: As the kids got older, their level of sun protection was reduced.
Stronger Sun = Increased Melanoma Risk
The sun is getting stronger nowadays. The melanoma rate in the United States has more than doubled since 1982 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26042651). As you get older, your risk of basal and squamous cell carcinomas increases. (http://www.skincancerprevention.org/skin-cancer/risk-factors).
As your kids (and you) age, you’re exposed to even more harmful UV radiation. How does it make sense to dial down the level of protection?
What's The Best Type Of Protection?
What do researchers say it takes to reduce the incidence of melanoma and stop people from dying from skin cancer? Wide-ranging interventions that reduce exposure to UV radiation and increase sun protection (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26042651).
You can continue to slather the sunscreen on your kids and dress them in sun protective clothing. However, as they become more independent, you need to pass the torch.
Why Role Models Are Important For Sun Safety
We all know how independent teenagers like to be. If older children get five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20, their risk of melanoma goes up by 80 percent. Their risk of other skin cancers increases by 68 percent (http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2014/05/16/1055-9965.EPI-13-0821).
With melanoma being the second most common form of cancer in females between the ages of 15 to 29, something needs to be done.
You can’t baby your children forever, but you can be the sun safety role model that sets them up with the foundation they need to extend the sun safety routines that you’ve set up for them.