March 09, 2016
1 min read

Australian Millennials getting tans, sunburned despite safety campaigns

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Despite growing up under constant public health campaigns advocating the benefits of sun protection, many Australians aged 18 to 35 years are choosing to tan, or are getting sunburned, according to research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting.

In addition, the researchers concluded that future campaigns targeting Millennials will need to “talk their talk,” and emphasize tanning behavior, sunscreen use and holiday safety tips.

“The research shows that this is a heterogeneous group, so future messaging actually has to segment Generation Y by demographics (age, gender and geography),” Saxon D. Smith, MBChB, MHL, FACD, of the University of Sydney in Australia, who presented the data, told Healio Family Medicine. “A single uniform message does not resonate well with them, but rather they want to be interacted with in their language and in their context.”

To determine attitudes relating to sun protection among Millennials, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional study among Australian medical students using a unique link to an online questionnaire. Of the 1,390 respondents, 65% were female, 97% were aged 18 to 35 years and 89% were Australian residents and 11% were international students.

According to the researchers, 65% of the respondents reported being sunburned at least once during the past year. Of these, 49% reported they had been burned while on holidays. In addition, 28% said they were actively sun tanning, despite 95% acknowledging they were aware of the increased risk for skin cancer. Sunscreen was the most popular means of sun protection. However, 71% were applying less than the recommended amount, and only 19% reported re-applying every 2 hours.

“The other very clear clinical message is that for those who think they are doing the right thing when they apply sunscreen, they are using practices that in fact gives them a false sense of security,” Saxon said. “That is, if you use expired or heat affected sunscreen, or if you don't use enough, you dramatically impact upon the SPF protection you thought you were getting.” – by Jason Laday

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.


Saxon SD, et al. F079. Late-Breaking Research: Basic Science/Cutaneous Oncology/Pathology. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology 74th Annual Meeting; March 4-8, 2016; Washington, D.C.