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  • Is Skin Cancer Only a White Person's Disease?

  • Posted by Anna on August 9, 2011 at 01:19PM
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  • I'll admit it: As a Latina, I have excused myself from sunscreen on numerous occasions under the assumption that skin cancer wasn't a reality for my brown skin. Of course, I've wised up since working in the beauty industry. Though to continue in the theme of honesty, slathering on the SPF recently has been more to delay future wrinkles than to protect my skin from melanoma.

  • Turns out I'm not the only minority naively forsaking sun protection and assuming skin cancer only happens to those with pale complexions. As Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd recently told CNN, "The common misperception that naturally bronzed skin is immune to the threat of skin cancer is a dangerous one."

  • Woolery-Lloyd went on to say that in this country, "minorities are less likely to be checked, diagnosed, and treated for skin cancer in its early detection stages. Because of this, those with darker complexions have a greater risk of dying from skin cancer than their light-skinned counterparts," she says.

  • By perpetuating the urban legend that skin cancer is only a white person's disease, communities of color assume that their dark skin does not need SPF protection or to be checked for skin cancer. Woolery-Lloyd says this dangerous assumption "has become a silent killer with deadly consequences."

  • The takeaway? Skin cancer is not just a white person's disease. No one is safe from the effects of UV radiation, no matter how dark their skin color.

  • "The need for proper education and skin cancer screenings is crucial," says Woolery-Lloyd. "Increased awareness of this will ensure that the African American and Hispanic populations don't fall victim to a very preventable disease."

  • So please, my fellow minorities, protect your skin every day with these reader-approved sunscreens, don't use tanning beds (see why here) or lay out in the sun, and finally, get screened -- it could save your life.

  • Member Comments

    Your Comment:

    • This is important advice for everyone, regardless of skin color. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

      by Jewelrydesigner Friday, March 23, 2012 at 09:00AM Report as inappropriate

    • I try to get everyone to wear sunscreen no matter their skin color. A lot of people blow it off unfortunately. When you have skin cancer in your family it makes you a lot more aware.

      by beautybody Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 10:15PM Report as inappropriate

    • always wear sunscreen to protect your skin.

      by shar_r Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 01:07PM Report as inappropriate

    • The sun is the sun. Period. Everyone should wear sunscreen.

      by attagirl Monday, August 22, 2011 at 03:42PM Report as inappropriate

    • I encourage everyone to go get a check up with the dermatologist. I had one yesterday and they ended up removing some skin on my face for a biopsy. Hopefully the results don't come back as skin cancer. It can happen to anyone and I've been practicing safe sun for years. I don't want anyone else to ever have to go through this worry and waiting.

      by taryn.romero Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 07:37AM Report as inappropriate

    • @evet I have psoriasis,mild case but I benefit from exposing to sunshine so it is ok for me(mediterranean person with same skin tone)

      by selma Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 12:19PM Report as inappropriate

    • I always wear SPF, even though I have Cuban Heritage.

      by MissPurple Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 10:41AM Report as inappropriate

    • great article!

      by Bon_Bon Monday, August 15, 2011 at 02:50AM Report as inappropriate

    • I tan easily, but I still make a point of wearing sunscreen, even if it's low SPF, and I reapply frequently. I still get more sun/tanning bed exposure than I should though :(

      by LipglossandSpandex Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 12:20AM Report as inappropriate

    • I have heard of dark skinned young adults getting skin cancer. From what I heard the highest danger is in having experienced sunburns. I don't wear sunscreen, except if I am on the beach for awhile. There, I tend to watch out the first day, even though I tend not to burn too much. I was wearing hats to protect my face, but I found that for my skin condition, I do need sun. I have never used a tanning salon, and now tend to be indoors more during, hot weather. My father had to get growths frozen off by the dermatologist, so I guess that I am going to be careful.

      by evet Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 09:53PM Report as inappropriate

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