Doctors highlight the importance of using sunscreen, particularly for people of color

Members of the Black community are less likely to get skin cancer, but they are also most likely to get a delayed diagnosis.

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

Jun 19, 2024, 1:37 AM

Updated 33 days ago

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The official start of the summer is only a few days away and as temperatures continue to rise around the state, health experts are reminding the public about the importance of using sunscreen – particularly for people of color.
Although people of color have higher levels of melanin in their skin, health experts say they still need to protect themselves from the rays of the sun. Members of the Black community are less likely to get skin cancer, but they are also most likely to get a delayed diagnosis.
“We have higher levels of melanin in our skin. Melanin is a protective ingredient which does protect you from the sun's rays,” says Dr. Jeanine Downie, of Image Dermatology.
Statistics show Caucasians get skin cancer more than any other race, but people of color are four times more likely to be diagnosed with advanced melanoma and 1 ½ more likely to die from the disease.
“African Americans get delayed diagnosis and delayed treatment because the suspicion level is not as high,” says Downie.
Downie says there are also many misconceptions when it comes to people of color using sunblock and getting vitamin D.
“The reality is that you can get vitamin D from your oral intake in your supplements or greasy oily fishes like good ole salmon, so you're still going to get that,” Downie says.
Downie also says that people of every ethnicity need sunblock every day throughout the year, not just on extremely sunny hot days like New Jersey is seeing this week.


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