Task Force: Appeal to Teen Vanity to Reduce UV Ray Exposure

The sun's rays can be dangerous, raising the risk of skin cancers, which is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.  A new report from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that parents, doctors, and media appeal to teenagers' sense of vanity to convince them to avoid tanning beds, and to wear sunscreen and protective clothing.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft this week, recommending counseling for people between the ages 10 and 24 years who have fair skin about minimizing their ultraviolet radiation exposure. The group routinely makes recommendations about what sort of preventive services should be used in medical care.

The most effective method for reaching this demographic was using booklets, photographs and videos showing how the sun ages and damages skin. This approach was especially convincing for female teens, who were most likely to use indoor tanning beds.

"Appearance-focused messages were successful at reducing intent to pursue this behavior," according to the report released by the task force.

"We'll take what we can get," said Dr. Virginia Moyer, the panel chair of the task force.  "From the standpoint of accomplishing the goal of decreasing UV exposure, that goal was best accomplished using appearance-based counseling."


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