The first day of spring usually signals the start of increased outdoor activities, which also means more time in the sun. Since skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States1-2, researchers are taking a closer look at how sun-protective behaviors vary among different populations.

Three new research letters published online today in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examine the public’s sun-protective behaviors and skin cancer risk factors.

  • Board-certified dermatologist Jashin J. Wu, MD, FAAD, led research that found that Asian Americans are less likely to wear sunscreen compared to non-Hispanic whites. For his research, Dr. Wu evaluated the sunscreen habits of 7,246 Asian American and non-Hispanic white participants aged 20-59. In addition to learning that Asian-Americans are less likely to wear sunscreen, Dr. Wu found female sex, higher income, higher education, increasing age and decreasing body mass index (BMI) positively influenced sunscreen use.
  • In Hair color and Risk of Keratinocyte Carcinoma in US Women and Men, the authors — including board-certified dermatologist Abrar Qureshi, MD, MPH, FAAD — evaluated the association between one’s natural hair color and the risk of keratinocyte carcinoma (KC), including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. In their analysis of more than 205,400 individuals, Dr. Qureshi and his colleagues found that red-haired individuals have the highest skin cancer risk — even after adjusting for skin tones. The study also found that redheads have a higher risk of SCC on their arms and legs than darker-haired individuals.

The board-certified dermatologists above are available to discuss their studies in more detail and what it means for the general public.

The American Academy of Dermatology offers the following resources to help educate the public about sun protection and skin cancer prevention and detection:


1Guy GP, Thomas CC, Thompson T, Watson M, Massetti GM, Richardson LC. Vital signs: Melanoma incidence and mortality trends and projections—United States, 1982–2030. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(21):591-596.

2Guy GP, Machlin S, Ekwueme DU, Yabroff KR. Prevalence and costs of skin cancer treatment in the US, 2002–2006 and 2007–2011. Am J Prev Med. 2015;48:183–7.