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DNA damage

Skin Cancer is Color Blind

Written on July 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm , by

If you have brown skin, skin cancer may not be top of mind—but it should be.

Research by L’Oréal Paris USA has shown that sun can cause DNA damage in all skin types light to dark. Ultraviolet induced DNA damage is the number one reason that skin cancer develops, so this science debunks the ”people of color don’t get skin cancer” myth.

The truth is, only 17 percent of surveyed minority respondents had been to a dermatologist for a mole check, and over 65 percent of surveyed African American adults had never worn sunscreen.  The incidence of skin cancer is going up particularly fast in Hispanic and some Asian populations, and because of delayed detection it is more likely to be deadly in those with darker skin. Skin cancer is curable if caught early, so everyone regardless should be wearing broad spectrum SPF 30 daily, getting skin checks by a dermatologist yearly, and doing monthly self-skin checks with particular focus on new/changing lesions of the palms/soles and genital skin.

—By Mona Gohara, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut