as 80 percent of a person’s life-time exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays occurs by age 18, according to a recent article in the New York Times
. This means childhood is the most critical time for avoiding sun-induced harm later in life and it is important for sun protection habits to be established early on.
However, the reality is as children move into adolescence, the proportion who "often or always" use sunscreen declines, as found by a study cited in the article.
The New York Times reports that multiple studies showed that the more youngsters were exposed to the sun early in life, especially if they suffered serious sunburns, the greater the risk of later developing both skin cancer and deadly melanomas.
"Canadian researchers showed more than a decade ago that routine use of sunscreen by school-age children diminishes their risk of developing moles. The study, directed by Richard Gallagher of the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, followed 458 elementary school children over three years."
At the end of the study, "there was no difference in the amount of time the children spent in the sun or in how much clothing they wore. But the children whose parents got the educational information and sunscreen developed fewer moles than the children whose parents did not. And fewer moles, the researchers said, no doubt means that these children will be less likely to develop melanomas when they grow up."
The article also referenced "a 10-year study of 1,621 Australians ages 25 to 75[.] Adele C. Green of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and colleagues found that those who used sunscreen daily on their head and arms developed half the number of melanomas as those who used it less often."