When it comes to protecting children’s delicate skin against melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, some parents who rely on sunscreen may be getting a false sense of security according to a new groundbreaking study.
Experts agree that applying sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and full spectrum ultraviolet UVA and UVB protection to your child’s skin every time he or she goes outside is a sound practice.
However, sunscreen alone does not necessarily avert sunburn, a major risk factor for melanoma.
In fact, the study found that about half of parents who themselves are melanoma survivors fail to optimally follow sun protection recommendations for their children.
Research shows that children of survivors are at increased risk for developing the disease as adults.
UCLA researchers were led by Dr. Beth Glenn, associate director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Healthy and At-Risk Populations Research Program. They surveyed 300 Latino and non-Latino white melanoma survivors with children ages 17 and younger.
The participants were observed over a three-year period about their attitudes towards melanoma prevention, how at risk for melanoma they believed their child to be, and their current use of sun protection strategies for their child.
Participants were identified through the California Cancer Registry, which tracks all cases of cancer across the state.
This is the first study to focus on children of Latino and non-Latino white melanoma survivors. Latinos have often been left out of skin cancer prevention research due to a common misconception that sun protection is not important for this group.
UCLA researchers found that parents in the study relied on sunscreen to protect their child against sun exposure, and 43 percent of parents surveyed reported that their child experienced sunburn in the past year.
"Sunburns were common among the children in our study despite their elevated risk for skin cancer.