Hispanic, Asian women show rise in skin cancer rates

By Jesef Williams • Published: June 24th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Having a darker complexion doesn’t make you immune to skin cancer. And California researchers are now warning that Hispanic and Asian women are developing skin cancer at alarming rates.

The trend is possibly linked to the increased popularity of sun tanning … and the assumption that darker skin is automatically protected from the sun’s harmful rays.

Researchers presented their findings earlier this year at the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

The researchers reviewed more than 4,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in white, Hispanic and Asian patients who had surgery to remove it.

It’s true that most of the skin cancer cases the researchers reviewed occurred in white people, with older white men making up a majority of these cases. But among Hispanic and Asian people, two-thirds of the skin cancer cases occurred in women.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there was a 43 percent increase in skin cancer incidence among Hispanics and Asians between 2000 and 2010.

Researchers say Asian cultures have traditionally valued fair skin but attitudes among younger generations have shifted over time to prefer tanning.

On top of that, some Asians and Hispanics may think their darker complexion protects them from the sun’s harmful rays. But that’s far from being an absolute. In fact, this assumption is one reason why skin cancer is often diagnosed in later stages in people who have darker skin.

Non-melanoma skin cancer develops on the face, ears, neck, lips and hands, and can spread to other body parts. If left untreated, it can lead to speaking and vision problems, and even death.

It’s still possible to have fun in the sun, just be sure to wear sunscreen … regardless of your skin tone.