Sharyn Alden, Health Behavior News Service, February 2, 2010
Only about 31 percent of African-American adults engage in at least one form of sun protection behavior such as wearing a hat, while 63 percent never use sunscreen, according to a new study.
Melanoma is more than 10 times higher in whites compared to blacks, but over a five-year span, blacks have a 78 percent lower survival rate compared to 92 percent of whites, according to study background material. One reason might be that melanoma in blacks usually is first seen when in an advanced stage, the researchers suggest.
Latrice Pichon, Ph.D., of the school of public health at the University of Michigan, led the study, which appears online and in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“The findings may point to potential places to intervene in the future,” Pichon said. “We can use these data to design sun-safety programs tailored to subgroups of African-Americans, particularly men, and those who have low income and education.”
Brawley said many dark-skinned blacks do not worry about protecting their arms, legs and trunk from the sun and that might not be a bad thing. “In my 25-year career, I have almost never seen melanoma in blacks (Brawley is African-American) except on the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, nail beds and sometimes on the scalp.”
Still, Brawley said he gives the same advice to light-skinned blacks as he does to white patients. “When people with a light complexion type go out in the sun, they need to use sun protection to avoid getting sunburned.”