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How Sun Smart is Your City?

Posted: May 17, 2010

At first glance, Hartford, Salt Lake City and Denver might not seem to have much in common. But a new survey by the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) found these three cities outshine other U.S. cities in heeding dermatologists' advice on preventing and detecting skin cancer.

The “Suntelligence: How Sun Smart is Your City?” online survey polled more than 7,000 adults nationwide to determine their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors toward tanning, sun protection and skin cancer detection. Twenty-six cities were ranked based on respondents’ answers to several questions in each category.

“One common thread we found encouraging is that the majority of people polled expressed concern about skin cancer and had awareness of the importance of proper sun protection,” said dermatologist William D. James, MD, FAAD, president of the Academy. “However, we found that people’s behaviors did not always correlate with their concerns.”

Although Hartford, Salt Lake City and Denver ranked No. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh fell to the bottom of the sun-smart spectrum with rankings of 24, 25 and 26, respectively. When results for these cities were compared to the average collective responses for all survey respondents, significant differences were observed in the top- and bottom-ranked cities.

Hartford respondents excelled in their knowledge of sun protection and the risks associated with tanning, scoring above the average of adults overall. For example, only about one-third of respondents (35%) nationwide correctly answered the question that asked whether some types of ultraviolet (UV) rays are safe for your skin. Forty-two percent of Hartford respondents knew that this statement was not true – that all forms of UV exposure, from natural sunlight and artificial light sources such as tanning beds – are harmful.