Sun protection low among American Indians and Alaskan natives

Kevin Yang, from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues used data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey (2005, 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2015) to assess skin cancer risk behaviors and prevention among AIAN versus other populations. The analysis included 360,573 participants.

The researchers found that compared with other racial and ethnic groups, AIAN respondents reported less frequent sun-protective behaviors, including less wearing of hats when outside on a sunny day and a lower likelihood of seeking shade when outdoors. Sunscreen use was reported less frequently among AIAN respondents versus non-Hispanic Whites and Asians, but AIAN respondents reported sunscreen use more frequently than African Americans. AIAN respondents reported more frequent use of indoor tanning devices versus other minority groups (odds ratios, 17.4 versus African Americans and 14.8 versus Asians). While similar to other minority groups, fewer AIANs reported ever receiving full-body skin examinations by a dermatologist compared with non-Hispanic Whites (odds ratio, 0.42). Melanoma diagnosis was more frequently reported by AIAN respondents versus other groups.

“This work’s findings call for future studies to evaluate barriers to skin cancer screenings and for the design of initiatives to promote sun-protective behaviors for AIAN populations in the United States,” the authors write.