• Thu, Feb 20 - 1:00 pm ET

Sunscreen Studies Show That Teens Are Too Cool For Cancer, But Too Superficial For Wrinkles

sunscreenA new study recently published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology is suggesting that teenagers are more concerned with what they look like than whether or not they get cancer. Uhhh-doyyyy. I’m not a doctor, but I was a teenager just a few years ago and I’m pretty sure that the part of the brain that gives any fucks about real threats of mortality is not even close to being developed in teenage years, though the part of the brain that wants to stay young and beautiful forever is at full force. Teenagers drive too fast and behave recklessly because they don’t even care if they’re going to die as long as they make a sexy baby-faced corpse.

Even though the results of the study should have been obvious before it was even conceived of and funded, the researchers went along and proved what we already knew. The team, led by April W. Armstrong, MD, rounded up *fifty High School juniors from a Northern California High School and had them fill out surveys “to create a starting point of their knowledge about UV light and use of sun-protective behaviors.” The students were then split into two random groups. One group was shown a short educational video about the risk of skin cancer due to sun exposure, while the other group was shown a short educational video about cosmetic changes due to sun damage, like mutating into a withered old crone with discolored skin.

After six weeks, the team had the teenagers fill out a questionnaire to assess how much information the students retained from the educational videos and to see if they had changed their ways when it comes to sun protection.

The scientists found that regardless of the technique, the students retained the same amount of information about sun exposure; however, the kids that were shown how UV exposure can turn them into shriveled old hags were more inclined to use sunscreen than the kids that learned that UV exposure can give them a deadly cancer.

So what is the endgame? Let’s let Dr. Armstrong speak for herself:

“For teenagers, telling them UV exposure will lead to skin cancer is not as effective as we would hope. If our endgame is to modify their behavior, we need to tailor our message in the right way and in this case the right way is by highlighting consequences to appearance rather than health. It’s important to address now — if we can help them start this behavior when younger, it can affect skin cancer risk when older.”

Now that we have scientific confirmation that teens are superficial as all get out, let’s use it our advantage!

*Dr. Armstrong and team admit that this is a small sample size and the results may not be applicable to the general population.

via The Huffington Post//Image via Shutterstock

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  • HB

    Even though I’m from pretty much the opposite of Northern California, I’d like to see what results would be like in other regions. I think picking that one stands out because of the stereotype of the “California girl.”

    • Muggle

      Nah, down here in the Southeast teens are more worried about looking good than getting cancer. IIRC Southeastern teenagers are more likely than teenagers anywhere else in the US to go tanning, and especially use indoor tanning.

    • HB

      That’s where I live! But growing up, everyone just got spray tans before prom and stuff. I only knew maybe 2 people who used tanning beds. Good to know though!