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Sun safety is a standard that needs to be developed at an early age in order to reduce the risk for skin cancer. Most parents are diligent with their babies but become much more lax once kids are more active.

From birth to age 18 is when the majority of a person’s exposure to ultraviolet rays occurs and serious sunburns drastically increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Unless sun safety habits are developed early, adolescents and teens do not know or  care about how the sun will affect their skin’s appearance or increase their cancer risk later in life.

In a three year study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, the 50% of fifth graders who were diligent about using sunscreen decreased to 25% when they became eighth graders. This is alarming, especially since Canadian researchers have found that children who use sunscreen on a regular basis are at a lower risk of acquiring moles that can lead to skin cancer in adulthood.

Like learning the habit of wearing seat belts in a car, children should be taught habits for sun safety such as wearing sunscreen and protective clothing when out in the sun. It just may save their lives.

Read the full New York Times article.