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California cities score below 50th percentile on 'sun-smart' survey

Californians should spend some time brushing up on their knowledge of sun protection and skin cancer detection, according to results from a new national survey by the American Academy of Dermatology.

The dermatologic association polled more than 7,000 Americans in 26 cities to determine their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors toward tanning, sun protection and skin cancer detection. Overall, San Francisco ranked No. 14, San Diego came in at No. 17 and Los Angeles scored the lowest at No. 22. Among the survey results:

  • 35% of San Francisco residents never examine their skin for changes to moles and other skin blemishes.
  • Only 57% of San Diego residents know that it is not smarter to tan indoors using a tanning bed.
  • Only 50% of Los Angeles residents know that sun exposure during childhood is related to skin cancer in adulthood.

But the most significant finding was the contradictory nature of Americans' attitudes and actions regarding prevention of skin cancer.

  • 75% of respondents agree that they will do anything possible to prevent skin cancer.
  • A vast majority of adults (70%) do not apply sunscreen on an average day.

You can learn more about the various types of skin cancer, what you should do to protect yourself against skin cancer and why middle-age and older men may need to step up their skin cancer prevention efforts in this 1:2:1 podcast with Susan Swetter, MD, director of the Pigmented Lesion and Cutaneous Melanoma Clinic at the Stanford Cancer Center.

Photo by Phillie Casablanca

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