Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. According to the KWF, 52 percent of all cancer diagnoses are melanoma. And these numbers are only increasing. In 2019, melanoma was diagnosed in nearly 77,000 people. That’s double the number it was ten years ago.
This is no longer possible, says health scientist Karlin Thunen. I studied how parents protect themselves and their children from the sun. “To do this, we interviewed parents and asked seniors to complete an online questionnaire for several years,” she told EditieNL.
One of the main findings of the study, she says, is that we need to get rid of the perfect beauty of tan skin. “Tanning really means damage to the skin,” explains Thunen. “Red skin often scares people, but brown skin makes people think it’s healthy sometimes.”
But this is not the case. “Then there is permanent damage to the skin and the risk of developing skin cancer increases dramatically.” And this is not just a problem for adults. Sunbathing also carries risks for children. “It is even more harmful in children, because their skin is not yet complete.”
Therefore, more attention must be paid to this matter. “I would argue in favor of creating a campaign to reach children in particular. Using social media influencers to call attention to the flawed beauty paradigm, for example.”
But if we know the damage the sun can cause, why do we still enjoy sunbathing? According to health communication professor Julia Van Weir, it has to do with how far away the consequences of our behavior are from us. She told EditieNL, “So people prefer to look good in the short term. It’s still a long way to take risks in the long term. People will only change their behavior when it’s urgent.”
However, Van Weert sees a difference in the target group when it comes to changing behavior. “For young people, it helps deliver more short-term results. As with young men, when the skin becomes ugly in the short term. So it has direct negative consequences. I know that older skin appeals to young people more than you talk about long-term consequences.” “
Van Wehr argues that, along with other carcinogenic behaviors, it is still difficult for people to adapt. “Often at a moment like this you are telling yourself that you would rather enjoy life than live long. Until the moment comes. We are rewarded in the short term and we are punished in the long term.”