January 5, 2009 / 11:18 PM / 11 years ago

More than half of U.S. cyclists forgo helmets: report

A resident rides a bike near the ocean in Key West, Florida as Hurricane Ike approaches September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half of Americans admit they never use a helmet while bicycling and more than a quarter skip the sunscreen, even when they are in the sun all day, according to Consumer Reports National Research Center.

A report released by the consumer group on Monday shows half also neglect to unplug appliances such as toasters — even though leaving them plugged in can cause fires.

The risks of cycling without a helmet are even higher — the group cited the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as saying 92 percent of bicyclists killed in 2007 were not wearing helmets. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.

Similarly, sunscreen can prevent skin cancer, which is by far the most common cause of cancer, although the two most common types are rarely deadly. The American Cancer Society estimated that more than 1 million new cases of basal and squamous cell cancers were diagnosed in 2008.

The survey of 1,000 Americans has a margin of error of about 3 percent. It found that 58 percent of Americans never used a helmet while cycling and 27 percent claimed they never used sunscreen.

Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Sandra Maler

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