According to a new "Suntelligence" survey by the American Academy of Dermatology, the cities of Hartford, Salt Lake City and Denver far outshine the rest of the country in terms of taking regular sun protection seriously.
And the delinquent kids?
Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh all ranked at the end of the 26-city survey, which took place online and asked over 7,000 adults about their knowledge and behaviors towards tanning, skin cancer detection and sun protection.
"One common thread we found encouraging is the majority of people polled expressed concern about skin cancer and had awareness of the importance of proper sun protection. However, we found that people's behaviors did not always correlate with their concerns," said dermatologist William D. James, who is president of the Academy.
Yet 59 percent of all respondents have never once been screened for cancerous spots by a health care provider.
"While skin cancer can be successfully treated if detected early, the five-year survival rate for individuals with regional and distant stage melanomas are 65 percent and 16 percent, respectively. That's why people must be vigilant about protecting their skin from sun exposure and aware of the early warning signs of skin cancer," warned Dr. James.
In spite of the industry's continual warnings of the dangers of tanning -- which the World Health Organization recently labeled a cancer-causing 'carcinogenic' -- the study still revealed that 72 percent of the general public feel that people look better and more attractive with a tan.
"We're hoping the results of the survey will draw attention to the public's need to change its attitudes toward tanning," said Dr. James.
One look at the cast of the Jersey Shore, and we're not so sure people really want to change their perceptions about the look of a tan, though there are safe ways to get color, like using a gradual glow lotion or self-tanning bronzer.
To lower your risk of skin cancer -- one of the fastest growing cancers in the country -- stay out of the direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when rays are strongest and your shadow is shorter than you are. Apply a generous layer of broad-spectrum lotion to help shield you from both UVA and UVB rays in a protection level of SPF 30 or above. Be sure to take extra care when you're near water, snow and sand, or else the sun's reflection from these surfaces can increase your risk of a burn.
And in honor of today's official status of Melanoma Monday, which kicks of Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, Dr. James urges you to take a peek at your birthday suit and get in to see a dermatologist if you notice any spots changing, growing or bleeding on your skin.
Diligence pays off; the one good thing about skin cancer is that it's very treatable when caught early.
Regardless, protect yourself every day with the latest sunscreen breakthroughs.