In an attempt to look golden like those adored celebrities, more adolescents in the U.S. are indulging in indoor-tanning procedures while fewer are using sunscreen to protect themselves once under the sun, even as the rates of skin cancer increases.

Published in the Preventing Chronic Disease journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study says in an issued statement that the adolescents in particular are vulnerable to engaging in poor behavior when it comes to protecting their skin.

Data collected for the study were from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which recorded the use of indoor tanning devices and sunscreen from 2001 to 2011 by a nationally representative sample of high school students.

The number of youths wearing sunscreen decreased from 67.7 percent in 2001 to 56.1 percent in 2011.

Corey H. Basch, EdD, MPH, who is an associate professor of public health at the William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, says the research only indicates that these teens continuously put themselves at risk for skin cancer.

Dr. Jeanine Daly, a dermatologist, expresses her surprise at the discovered decline in sunscreen use regardless of all the issued warnings on UV exposure being related to skin cancer.

"No matter how hard we've been trying to get that message out, we need to keep at it and work harder," Daly says adding that skin cancer is preventable.

Meanwhile, the use of indoor tanning devices was more prevalent among white females with 37.4 percent in 2009 and 29.3 percent in 2011. Females were also found to more likely use indoor tanning procedures than males, with 20.9 percent accounting to the former and only 6.16 for the latter.

The study found no big drop in the use of these tanning devices among the adolescents, says Basch.

The results of the study likewise signify the need to develop prevention efforts to minimize the risks of adolescents for skin cancer.

“Since UV exposure is such a major component in causing skin cancer, using sun protective behaviors like applying sunblock and avoiding intentional exposure to tanning devices will be key. Future prevention efforts definitely need to be focused at young people,” says Basch, also the study’s lead author.

In the U.S., skin cancer is considered as the most common type of cancer. From the years 2001 to 2010, cases of melanoma yearly increased by 1.6 percent in men and 1.4 percent in women.

Proper behaviors to protect skin among children and adolescents are important because this defines the possible development of skin cancer later life, according to the study. Measures can range from using sunscreen to not using artificial tanning procedures.

Dr. Daly says the best sunscreen is that which has zinc or titanium dioxide, covering both UVB and UVA rays.

The journal published the said study in its Aug. 21 issue.

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