Sunburn prevalence among adults in the United States, 1999.
Posted on Monday, March 15, 2004

Saraiya M, Hall HI, Uhler RJ.

Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.

BACKGROUND: Exposure to high levels of sunlight, such as a sunburn, is a strong determinant of melanoma risk.

METHODS: To describe statewide and U.S. estimates of sunburn prevalence in the United States and determine demographic and behavioral predictors of sunburn, we analyzed data from the 1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a population-based telephone survey conducted in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

RESULTS: Of 156,354 adults aged > or =18 years, 31.7% (95% confidence interval, 31.3%-32.1%) reported a sunburn in the past year; of adults aged 18 to 29 years, 57.5% reported such a sunburn. Reporting was highest among white, non-Hispanic males (44.1%), followed by white non-Hispanic females (35.3%), and lowest among black non-Hispanic males and females (5.1% and 5.3%, respectively). Statewide period prevalence of sunburn among whites was highest (>45%) in Wisconsin, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, DC, and Indiana, and lowest (<30%) in Puerto Rico, Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and New York.

CONCLUSIONS: Nationwide and statewide skin cancer prevention efforts should target young adults. Periodic monitoring of sunburn is important in evaluating the effectiveness of those efforts.


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