Attention men: Before you head outdoors this summer, make sure you are wearing sunscreen. Because evidently, you need some reminding. (Ok, nagging.)
Nearly 1 in 2 men surveyed said they had not applied sunscreen in the past 12 months, and only 32 percent considered themselves very knowledgeable about how to properly use it, the Dallas News reports.
Some misguided machismo may be to blame: Nearly two-thirds of men surveyed thought women needed sunscreen more because female skin is more sensitive to UV rays.
Guys' skin, they apparently believe, is somehow more impervious to sunburn and damage.
Except that it's not true. The photo at left dramatically illustrates what long-term exposure to the sun can do to a man's face. It's from a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine on a 69-year-old truck driver whose face was exposed on one side to sun through the window glass for 28 years.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, men have more unprotected sun exposure over the years than women and they then develop more skin cancers as they age.
"The majority of people who get melanoma, for example, are white men over age 50 - and they discover such growths later than women do, when they are harder to treat," says the foundation.
Part of the problem may be that the message about the importance of sunscreen protection is being directed at women, not men, says Alan Geller of the Boston University School of Medicine.
Geller's team of researchers discovered that advertisements for sunscreen appear primarily in publications aimed at women. The researchers reviewed five years of advertising in 24 different magazines, finding that 77 percent of sunscreen ads were in women's magazines.
On average, four sunscreen ads appeared in each woman's magazine, compared with less than one in every six issues of men's magazines.
However, a recent Australian study shows that when men hear information about skin protection, they follow it.
After a skin cancer information campaign was launched across 18 Australian communities, researchers found that men's screening rates went up in general, and the biggest increases were reported in men over the age of 50.
So, men, find a sunscreen lotion you like and start using it.
Oh, and don't forget a hat.
It also would be a good idea to learn the warning signs of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
In other health news:
Vitamin D lowers bone-fracture risk, but only at high doses. The latest study on vitamin D, a re-analysis of data from 11 clinical trials comprising more than 31,000 people age 65 and older, found that vitamin D supplements - which are often combined with calcium supplements - are associated with a lower risk of bone fracture only when taken at high doses, CNN.com reports. Taking 800 IU or more of D decreased the risk of hip fracture by 30 per cent and the risk of other bone fractures by 14 per cent.
Beware the Barbecue Brush's Bristles. From the Wall Street Journal comes a story on a CDC report documenting six cases of people accidentally swallowing wire bristles from grill-cleaning brushes while eating food cooked on a grill. In one case, a 50-year-old man came to the emergency room with abdominal pain after eating a steak at a cookout. A CT scan revealed a metal bristle in his small intestine. Evidently, the bristles can come off during cleaning and then get embedded in the food that's cooked.
FDA approves first at-home, rapid HIV test. Federal health officials have approved the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, the first over-the-counter, self-administered test that rapidly detects possible HIV infection, a move aimed at identifying and treating the estimated 20 percent of infected people in the U.S. who don't know they have the virus that causes AIDS, reports Msnbc.com.
Sleep apnea worse in winter. Sleep apnea - which causes people to momentarily stop breathing multiple times throughout the night, for seconds to minutes at a time - appears to worsen during the colder months of the year, according to a study from Brazil, Reuters reports.
Photo credit: Top photo, andmybaby.ie; small photo, courtesy New England Journal of Medicine