Study finds photographs of UV exposure can impact sunburns in preteens

April 23, 2009

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that among preteens, the use of photographs to measure ultraviolet (UV) exposure, could motivate them to improve sun protection practices and limit number of sunburns. These findings appear in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in our society, and overexposure to UV light in childhood is a major risk factor. Individuals with light eyes, pale skin, history of sunburns, freckling tendency, multiple nevi, or family histories of are at greatest risk.

The BUSM researchers collaborated with the Children's Prevention Foundation (http://www.melanomaprevention.org/) to design an intervention program in the Northeast. They recruited middle-school students (aged 11-13 years) from Quincy, Massachusetts, a community with a melanoma rate higher than expected from 1999-2003. Of the 111 students who completed the study, 83 received the intervention and 28 were in the control group. All students received a sun protection lecture. Those in the intervention group also received a UV photograph of their face, (that shows pigment changes from chronic ), along with detailed explanations of their findings on the UV photographs at baseline. Follow-up surveys at two and six months were also obtained. Responses from both groups were analyzed with regard to attitudes and behaviors relating to sun protection practices.

According to the researchers there were fewer (36 percent) reported sunburns in the intervention group at two months follow-up, as compared with the control group (57 percent). This difference was smaller at six months follow-up with 51 percent of intervention group reporting a sunburn compared to 64 percent of the control group. The researchers then examined the relationship between preteens who were "planning to tan" at baseline and reports of sunburn at two and six months follow-up and found sunburn rates were again lower among the students in the intervention group compared to the control group.

Students generally reported that the UV photograph was a helpful tool in teaching risk factors for skin cancer and the majority had kept them, Those preteens with the highest risk factors for melanoma, such as numerous facial freckles, were greater impacted and were significantly less likely to report sunburn at two months and again in six months.

"Despite public health recommendations to protect children and preteens from sun damage, studies indicate that we can be quite ineffective in this regard," said lead author Marie-France Demierre, a professor of dermatology and medicine at BUSM. "Studies have reported that children experience at least one annual sunburn, and more than a third have three or more per year. This greatly increases their chances of melanoma. The UV photographs appear to be a helpful tool to allow a child to recognize the risk for skin cancer and potentially reduce their chance of sunburn," added Demierre.

Demierre added, "The UV photograph represents an immediate ''picture'' of sun damage that can impact impressionable teens. By providing coping information, for example, information on how to protect oneself, sun protection information, one can facilitate positive health behaviors potentially preventing sunburn."

Demierre also commented on the feasibility of such a study within a public school system. The researchers had a close collaboration with the Quincy school superintendent, teachers and nurses who allowed this important research to take place. "The potential of UV photographs in improving behavior among children and preteens, especially those most at risk for melanoma, is enormous. Every teen should get an ultraviolet photograph of his/her face in school along with routine vaccinations," she added.

Source: Boston University

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study uncovers potential 'silver bullet' for preventing and treating colon cancer

July 26, 2017
In preclinical experiments, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a new way in which colon cancer develops, as well as a potential "silver bullet" for preventing and treating it. The findings may extend to ...

Compound shows promise in treating melanoma

July 26, 2017
While past attempts to treat melanoma failed to meet expectations, an international team of researchers are hopeful that a compound they tested on both mice and on human cells in a petri dish takes a positive step toward ...

Understanding cell segregation mechanisms that help prevent cancer spread

July 26, 2017
Scientists have uncovered how cells are kept in the right place as the body develops, which may shed light on what causes invasive cancer cells to migrate.

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

Physical activity could combat fatigue, cognitive decline in cancer survivors

July 25, 2017
A new study indicates that cancer patients and survivors have a ready weapon against fatigue and "chemo brain": a brisk walk.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Apr 23, 2009
VERY GOOD IDEA!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.