Skin Cancer: Not Just a White Persons’ Disease

 

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The truth is that anyone can get skin cancer, so protect your skin. Photo by John Steven Fernandez.

Last semester I took a biology course called, genetic diseases. One morning my class had a discussion over skin cancer, and my professor made the comment that “anytime a person’s skin color changes, as a result of exposure from the sun, they’re mutating their DNA. And, therefore, they are increasing their chances of getting skin cancer.”

I had to admit, I thought I was safe from getting that type of cancer. I have a light/medium brown skin tone, and never received a sunburn. However, just like anyone else, my skin color darkens after being out in the sun for a long period of time.

In our society there seems to be a myth that people of color cannot get skin cancer. Caucasians are the primary victims of skin cancer, but people of color are often diagnosed with skin cancer in later stages of life.

There is a reason for that.

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Take pride in the skin color you have. Photo by Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Non-caucasians produce more melanin in the epidermis of their skin. Melanin is a dark-brown pigment that acts as a protector from the sun. The more melanin one has, the darker their pigment. For people of color, it takes a tad bit longer for harmful mutations to arise that may result in cancer.

I’ve heard many people with darker skin boast that they never have to put on sunscreen because the sun cannot harm them.

The truth is that the sun can damage all skin types, and that anyone can get skin cancer.

Take pride in the skin color you already have, but also protect it. No matter what your skin color, put on some sunscreen before going out on a scorching summer day.

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