Assessment of temperature and ultraviolet radiation effects on sunburn incidence at an inland U.S. Beach: A cohort study

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Abstract

Background:

Increases in outdoor temperature may lead to increases in sunburn, outdoor exposure, and skin cancer in human populations.

Objective:

This study aimed to quantify sunburn incidence and risk for Ohio beachgoers exposed to varying outdoor conditions.

Methods:

Sunburn incidence data were obtained through a prospective cohort study at East Fork Lake (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA). Recruitment occurred over 26 weekend days. Beach interviews and follow-up telephone interviews obtained exposure and health information. New sunburns were self-reported 8–9 days post-enrollment. Survey data were paired with ultraviolet radiation (UVR) index and temperature data for statistical analysis.

Results:

Among 947 beachgoers, new sunburns were reported in 18% of swimmers. Sunburn incidence was associated with temperature (odds ratio = 1.2; 95% CI: 1.1 – 1.4) and UVR index (odds ratio = 1.6; 95% CI: 1.0 – 2.5) in models adjusted for water exposure, arrival time, and beach visit frequency. Some evidence of a temperature+UVR interaction was observed.

Limitations:

Exposure and sunburn data were self-reported without clinical diagnosis and date of onset. The follow-up period enabled sunburns to be reported from a variety of days rather than only the beach visit day thereby limiting interpretation. Sun protection behaviors were not evaluated.

Conclusions:

Temperature and UVR influence sunburn frequency. Temperature, however was more strongly associated with sunburn in beachgoers than the nearest measured UVR index, suggesting future investigations are needed to better understand how temperature effects sunburn development. Interventions for decreasing sunburn are needed.

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