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Despite Cancer Risks, Majority Of People Not Using Sunscreen

BOSTON (CBS) – One in five Americans will develop skin cancer. But people still aren't using sunscreen as much as they should, despite all of the public education in recent years.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30% of women and only 14% of men say they regularly apply sunscreen if they're going to be out in the sun for over an hour.

One local dermatologist says trying to get the message through to patients is like "knocking his head against a coconut."

"There is something about having a tan that makes people, in particular young people, feel either better or empowered or stronger and that tan translates to other things, and our message is fighting against a very powerful equation on the other side," Dr. Michael Kaminer of Skincare Physicians in Chestnut Hill added. "We haven't figured out how to solve that puzzle yet."

The other problem is that many of the products, like sunscreens, moisturizers, and lip balms, which claim to offer protection against sun damage, aren't as advertised, or at least don't protect enough.

Kaminer says to do your homework. Look for a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF (sun protection factor) of 50.

He added that most people don't slather enough sunscreen on their skin, so even if you only put on half as much as you should, you're still getting an SPF of 25 or so.

And most importantly, Kaminer added, don't get a burn and avoid long-term exposure to severe or medium intense sun.

"If you feel like you're going to go outside and might get a little pink within a half hour, that sun is going to cause you a problem," Kaminer warned.

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