UV photos may convince youth to use sun protection

By Tom Nordlie • Published: July 22nd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Convincing college students to take health precautions can be an uphill battle.

Case in point… tanning.

Despite the proven connection between sun exposure and skin cancer, many young people want bronzed skin because it’s considered attractive.

Ironically, a study in the journal Archives of Dermatology suggests that vanity can motivate students to avoid excessive sun exposure.

Here’s how. Researchers used cameras with ultraviolet lenses to produce photos that revealed developing wrinkles and age spots on participants’ faces.

The study involved almost one-hundred-fifty students from two California universities.

They answered a questionnaire about their sun exposure and use of protective measures.

Then they were divided into three groups.

One group watched an educational video about sun damage and had their U-V photos taken. Then they answered another questionnaire about their future sun-protection plans.

A second group did the same, and also received a bottle of sunless tanning lotion.

That’s a risk-free way to get brown as a berry.

The third group was a control, and did nothing except answer the second questionnaire.

One month later, participants were unexpectedly contacted for a follow-up survey on sun exposure.

The results showed that the two groups that had U-V photos taken were more likely to take precautions.

Moreover, the group that received sunless tanning lotion was most likely to be careful.

So maybe the key to dissuading would-be sun worshippers is to provide an alternative way to reach their goal.

And if given the choice, they’ll take the wrinkle-free route.