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Research Letter
January 2016

Online Advertising for Cancer Prevention: Google Ads and Tanning Beds

Author Affiliations
  • 1Medical student, Harvard Medical School, Boston Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 3Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 4undergraduate student, College of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis
  • 5Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(1):101-102. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3998

Google receives more than 3.5 billion Internet searches daily,1 and the advertisements on their results pages may provide a unique opportunity to transmit targeted public health information to a large audience. Skin cancer is more common than all other cancers combined,2 and indoor tanning is a preventable risk factor that accounts for more than 450 000 new malignant neoplasms each year.3 Tanning bed use remains common, with 1 in 5 adolescents and more than half of college students exposed.3 Awareness of the dangers of tanning beds is one of the factors that can lead to behavior change. The goals of this study were to examine the volume of tanning bed–related searches on Google and pilot the use of Google’s advertising service for dissemination of skin cancer prevention messages to users entering searches related to tanning beds.

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