Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Research from the American Osteopathic Association has found young adults with higher melanin content in their skin are at an increased risk of getting a sunburn.
The study found a correlation between participants reporting a red, painful sunburn lasting a day or more with people age 18 to 29 who do not self-identify as white.
"Osteopathic medicine is largely focused on prevention, and melanoma, the skin cancer caused by sun exposure, is imminently preventable," Dr. Tracy Favreau, an osteopathic dermatologist and lead author of the study, said in a press release. "The concern here is that participants with high melanin content skin may think they're naturally protected from sunburn, which isn't true. We need to develop tailored sunburn prevention programs to change attitudes and reduce the risk of melanoma."
Approximately 5 million people are being treated for skin cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the most prevalent form of cancer in people ages 25 to 29, and second most prevalent form for people ages 15 to 29.
Researchers believe the combination of youth and melanin-rich skin gives people a false sense of security and protection against sunburns.
Study results show an urgent need for more education and sunburn prevention programs aimed at young adults.
"Technology presents effective opportunities to reach people where they are, in ways that will resonate with them personally," Sergey Arutyunyan, osteopathic medical student and lead author of the study, said in a press release. "To more closely target younger people, we may need an app that gamifies sun protection and rewards taking precautions. Simply warning of the danger is not having an effect."