A common modern adage urges, “Don’t feed the fears,” and for good reason. According to leading scientists and doctors, constant and excessive worry hinders our health in significant ways. Anxiety aside, worrying can cause sleeplessness, loss of appetite, inability to focus or cope, and also can cause physical symptoms which could lead to serious ailments such as heart attacks and ulcers.
However, there may be some cases in which fear and worry are healthy. For example, in the case of whether or not one uses sunscreen, feeding the fears may very well be necessary and more effective in motivating someone into taking proper precautions against diseases such as skin cancer. According to a recent publication in The Journal of Behavioral Medicine by social/health psychologist, Dr. Marc Kiviniemi and his team of researchers at the University at Buffalo, it was found - in research conducted as a part of a nationwide study with the National Cancer Institute - that fear and worry about getting skin cancer was more influential on people’s actions than was data to that point.
Dr. Kiviniemi explains in an article published by The University at Buffalo on Wednesday that
Most health behavior studies don’t account for the more visceral, emotional reactions that lead people to do risky behaviours, like eat junk food or ignore the protective benefits of sunscreen.
He goes on to say that
This study is important because most of what we do in public health communications focuses on spreading knowledge and information. By not addressing emotions, we’re potentially missing a rich influence on behavior when interventions don’t address feelings.
According to the study from the University at Buffalo, a great deal of people have never used sunscreen (32%) and a very small amount of people (14%) use sunscreen all the time. These statistics do not bode well in a world where skin cancer rates are quickly increasing. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are logged annually and this number surpasses that of any other cancers.
This high UV Index means that there will be a high risk of ultraviolet exposure if your skin is unprotected. If you will be outdoors, and you’re worried about skin cancer or sunburn, use sunscreen and protective clothing.
Sunburn is dangerous enough, Hamilton reminds but the ultraviolet radiation is the most dangerous part. Protect yourself.