Sun Protection Behaviors

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and in contrast to many other cancers, its numbers are on the rise. Although skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it is among the most preventable cancers. Comprehensive sun protection for skin cancer prevention includes (1) Avoiding sun exposure by attending to indicators of UV intensity and need for sun safety (i.e., time of day, season, latitude, altitude, and cloudiness); (2) Seeking shade whenever possible; (3) Wearing protective clothing that covers one’s trunk and arms such as a long-sleeve shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat; (4) Applying sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) 30 minutes before going outside in the sun; and (5) Reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or exercise. Avoiding outdoor and indoor tanning practices is also important for sunburn and skin cancer prevention. Indoor and outdoor tanning and sunburn have been strongly related to increased risk of melanoma.

The Health Behaviors Research Branch (HBRB) supports research in the area of sun protection and reducing sunburn and indoor tanning practices, through both measurement and intervention studies. HBRB is particularly interested in research leading to better understanding of sun safety and tanning practices in the context of other health behaviors (e.g., alcohol use), settings (e.g., physical activity), and social situations. HBRB also works to build collaborative partnerships with other government agencies and organizations to further scientific inquiry in how to best promote skin cancer prevention efforts at individual, community, and population levels.

Cancer Healthcast Podcast: Where psychology and skin cancer prevention meet.

Selected Active NCI Grants

Project Title Project Number Expiration Date Contact
Using Retrospective and Real-Time Physical Activity Tracking to Predict Risk of Sunburn in Outdoor Exercisers on Strava 1R21CA241637-01A1 June 30, 2023 Buller, David
Berteletti, Julia

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A Multi-Level Investigation of US Indoor Tanning Policy Enactment, Implementation, Compliance, Impact, and Economics 1R01CA244370-01A1 May 31, 2025

Heckman, Carolyn J.
Buller, David

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Facebook Intervention for Young Onset Melanoma Patients and Families
May 31, 2023 Manne, Sharon

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Randomized Trial of a Social Media-Delivered Intervention Targeting Indoor Tanning Users 7R01CA218068-04 May 31, 2023 Stapleton, Jerod Lynn
Sun Safety Ink! A Sun Safety Program for the Tattoo Community 5R01CA206569-04 December 31, 2022 Walkosz, Barbara
Dellavalle, Robert
A Personalized Approach to Skin Cancer Prevention among Adolescents 1R01CA244674-01 February 28, 2025 Wu, Yelena Ping

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Last Updated
May 04, 2023