(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Sun worshippers who care more about getting a tan to look attractive than the
danger of skin cancer are more likely to beware if reminded that long-term
tanning produces ugly wrinkles.
A new study at the Health Sciences
Faculty and the Management Faculty of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has
shown that stressing aging from sun exposure is more effective than talking
The diagnosis of skin cancer among the Jewish population
of Israel is among the highest in the Western world, causing the Health Ministry
and the Israel Cancer Association to invest much effort to preach against
dangerous sun exposure.
But these efforts, say Ma’ayan Korzitz, Prof.
Yaniv Poriya and Prof. Daniel Vardi of BGU, are not based on empirical studies
on exposures to the sun.
Thus the team decided to create a databank of
information that would contribute to advancing healthful behavior and reduce
skin cancer rates in the country. To understand when and how the individual
regards sun exposure as dangerous, they conducted 31 indepth, quality interviews
in a representative sample of adults.
The second stage of their research
was based on 353 thorough questionnaires.
They concluded that whether to
expose one’s skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays depended on the judgment and
personal feeling of the individual. In addition, women are especially worried
about the aesthetics of their skin and therefore can be persuaded to minimize
tanning to escape needless wrinkles.
Those interviewed developed their
own self-estimates of how much they have been exposed to the sun. The first
measure was when they feel the sun’s warmth and define it as “burning” or “too
hot.” Thus, for example, those in air conditioned or shaded areas don’t feel the
heat and think they are protected. In the second, they see redness or sunburn on
their skin. In the third, they are exposed at the beach or swimming pool between
noon and 4 p.m.
An analysis of the data showed that when exposed to the
sun during daily routines, those interviewed almost didn’t bother to protect
themselves from the sun. When they went to the beach or pool, they regarded sun
exposure as being dangerous and automatically sought to protect
When they were on vacation abroad at the beach or pool, they
spent an extended amount of time in the sun so they could return to Israel with
a tan to show they had a “good time.”
Many Israelis admitted they are not
really afraid of skin cancer and that it affects mostly older people. The
researchers said that the public shows “relative responsibility” at the beach or
pool but “irresponsibility” during their daily routines. They also advised that
anti-cancer education efforts stress not only cancer risks but also skin damage
that causes aging.