The Lower Incidence of Melanoma in Women May Be Related to Increased Preventative Behaviors

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Men have a higher lifetime incidence of melanoma than women.


Data from the 2005 Health Interview Survey were analyzed for sex differences in response to sun exposure and reported preventive measures among adults.


There were 31,428 people surveyed representing the US population. Although women were more likely to burn after 1 hour of sun (8.7% vs 5.4%), they also reported fewer sunburns than men (mean .7 vs .9). Women were also more likely stay in the shade (11.2% vs 6.2%) and always use sunscreen. However, women used a tanning bed more than men (2.1 vs .6 times per year) and were less likely to wear protective clothing when in the sun than men. After controlling preventive behaviors, men were 1.4 times more likely to have had a sunburn during the last 12 months.


Although men more often wear protective clothing and are less likely to use a tanning bed, women are more likely to avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen. The higher incidence of melanoma in men may be explained, in part, by an increased incidence of preventive measures taken by women