Incidence and public health burden of sunburn among beachgoers in the United States.

Affiliation

Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive M/D B243-01, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

The beach environment creates many barriers to effective sun protection, putting beachgoers at risk for sunburn, a well-established risk factor for skin cancer. Our objective was to estimate incidence of sunburn among beachgoers and evaluate the relationship between sunburn incidence and sun-protective behaviors. A secondary analysis, of prospective cohorts at 12 locations within the U.S. from 2003 to 2009 (n = 75,614), were pooled to evaluate sunburn incidence 10-12 days after the beach visit. Behavioral and environmental conditions were cross-tabulated with sunburn incidence. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate the association between new sunburn and sun-protective behaviors. Overall, 13.1% of beachgoers reported sunburn. Those aged 13-18 years (16.5%), whites (16.0%), and those at beach locations along the Eastern Seaboard (16.1%), had the highest incidence of sunburn. For those spending ≥5 h in the sun, the use of multiple types of sun protection reduced odds of sunburn by 55% relative to those who used no sun protection (Odds Ratio = 0.45 (95% Confidence Interval:0.27-0.77)) after adjusting for skin type, age, and race. Acute health effects of sunburn tend to be mild and self-limiting, but potential long-term health consequences are more serious and costly. Efforts to encourage and support proper sun-protective behaviors, and increase access to shade, protective clothing, and sunscreen, can help prevent sunburn and reduce skin cancer risk among beachgoers.

Keywords

Beach,Sun-protective behaviors,Sunburn,

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