Skin Cancer Prevention Coverage in Popular US Women’s Health and Fitness Magazines: An Analysis of Advertisements and Articles

  •  Corey Basch    
  •  Danna Ethan    
  •  Grace Hillyer    
  •  Alyssa Berdnik    


The desire to be tan is a phenomenon that public health researchers have investigated, as exposure to UV radiation increases the chances of developing skin cancer.  Media messages in women’s magazines have been shown to contribute to this problem. Much less is known about the prevalence of skin cancer prevention messages in these magazines. This study's aim was to identify the number and type of articles and advertised products devoted to skin health (sun protection and skin cancer prevention in particular) within five popular U.S. greater than women’s health and fitness magazines. We analyzed articles and advertisements over seven months of issues of the following popular women’s health and fitness magazines: Fitness, Health, Self, Shape, and Women's Health, March 2013 through September 2013. Overall, 31 issues of the five magazines with a total of 780 articles and 1,986 advertisements were analyzed. Of the 780 articles, a mere 2.9% (n=23) were devoted to skin. Of the 258 skin product advertisements, less than 20% of the products contained sun protection factor (SPF). These findings suggest that women’s health and fitness magazines can improve their efforts in informing women of skin cancer risks and preventive measures to minimize these risks. The role of these magazines in building health literacy among their readers is also discussed.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.