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Scand J Public Health. 2011 Feb;39(1):64-9. doi: 10.1177/1403494810391526.

Vacations to sunny destinations, sunburn, and intention to tan: a cross-sectional study in Denmark, 2007-2009.

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  • 1Danish Cancer Society, Department of Prevention and Documentation, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Denmark has experienced an increase in melanoma incidence since the 1960s. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the main preventable cause of this cancer. We examined current travel to, and sun-related behaviour of Danes at, sunny destinations in relation to their risk for sunburn.


A population-based sample of 11,158 respondents aged 15-59 years completed three questionnaires in 2007-2009 that included items on exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Using logistic regression analysis we examined the relations between sunny vacations, sun-related behaviour, demographic factors and risk for sunburn.


During 2007-2009, 44.8-45.8% of the respondents travelled to a sunny destination at least once a year; 24% became sunburnt, and 69% tanned intentionally. The odds ratio for sunburn in general for people who went on a sunny vacation as compared with those who did not was 1.6 (1.5-1.7). Sunscreen use (1.9; 1.4-2.6) and intentional tanning (3.4; 2.8-4.1) were positively associated with sunburn on vacation.


Taking a vacation in a sunny place is a risk factor for sunburn, especially for young people. The recommendation for sunscreen use should be re-evaluated, as intention to tan is the most important factor in sunburn on vacation and should be targeted more strategically.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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