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The epidemiology of sunburn in the US population in 2003.

BACKGROUND: Sunburn is a major preventable risk factor for skin cancer.

OBJECTIVE: We investigated risk factors for sunburn in the United States based on the 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

DESIGN AND METHODS: A random sample of 207,776 respondents provided data for the population-based survey. The main outcome measure was any report of sunburn within the previous 12 months.

RESULTS: Overall, 39% of respondents had at least one sunburn. The strongest factors associated with sunburn were age and socioeconomic factors. Sunburn prevalence was greatest in respondents 18 to 24 years old (61%). This group was more likely to have a sunburn than respondents 45 to 54 years of age (odds ratio [OR] = 2.76). Higher income and higher levels of education were positively associated with sunburn (OR 1.67 and 1.63, respectively). Individuals reporting recent binge drinking had a higher prevalence of sunburn (OR = 1.33).

LIMITATIONS: The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System does not include data on skin type or sun protection behavior; therefore the impact of these factors was not assessed.

CONCLUSION: Sunburn occurs at a very high rate in the United States.

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