October 18, 2011, Updated September 11, 2012

A new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers shows that targeting Israelis’ vanity is the key to combating melanoma. The researchers showed that Israelis reacted better to warnings that sun exposure causes premature aging of the skin than to threats of skin cancer.

Skin cancer among the Jewish population of Israel is among highest in the world. As such, the Health Ministry and the Israel Cancer Association invest in ‘sun smart’ programs to promote awareness and education about dangerous sun exposure.

But researchers from BGU’s Health Sciences Faculty and the Management Faculty found that anti-cancer education wasn’t effective enough and now suggest that health organizations highlight vanity drawbacks as well.

The researchers set out to understand when and how an individual regards sun exposure to be dangerous. They conducted 31 interviews in a representative sample of adults. The second stage of their study was based on 353 questionnaires.

The study showed that an individual’s personal feelings were a key part of a decision on whether to expose one’s skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Results also showed that women were especially worried about aesthetics of their skin and could be persuaded to minimize tanning to avoid early wrinkles.

The researchers reported three distinct patterns. Interviewees said they barely protected their skin during daily routines. At the pool or beach interviewees said they regarded sun exposure to be dangerous and covered up or put on sunscreen. And participants in the study noted that when on vacation – even if at the beach or pool – they extend the amount of time in the sun so they can return with a tan to show they had a “good time.”

Fighting for Israel's truth

We cover what makes life in Israel so special — it's people. A non-profit organization, ISRAEL21c's team of journalists are committed to telling stories that humanize Israelis and show their positive impact on our world. You can bring these stories to life by making a donation of $6/month. 

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

Read more: