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Ethnic Skin at Risk for Sun Damage

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | July 2, 2012

The lack of skin cancer recognition in patients of color is a problem and poses a serious health threat if left untreated, according to L’Oréal Research & Innovation team.

Skin cancer does not discriminate; it occurs in all populations, regardless of skin color. In an effort to increase awareness that people of color are not immune to melanoma and other skin diseases, L’Oréal hosted a press event last month at its New York City headquarters to unveil new findings on the topic. Through objective methods to measure skin color developed by L’Oréal, researchers have been able to demonstrate that sun exposure risks affect all skin types and skin colors, according to the company.
“The lack of skin cancer recognition in patients of color is a problem and poses a serious health threat if left untreated,” said Dr. Wendy Roberts, medical director of Desert Dermatology Skin Institute in Rancho Mirage, CA, who spoke at the event. “When detected early, skin cancer is highly curable. That’s why people of color need to be aware of their risk and be vigilant about protecting their skin from the sun, as well as seeking help with skin lesions that do not heal.”
A recent epidemiological review published by the American Academy of Dermatology showed that the five-year survival rates for African-Americans (78%) is significantly lower than that of Caucasians (92%). Studies reveal that the incidence of melanoma is increasing in Hispanics of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent as well. Ultraviolet radiation still remains one of the most important factors contributing to the risk of developing a skin carcinoma among all skin phenotypes, according to the presentation.
“Many patients think that non-Caucasian people are immune to skin cancer. That is one reason why people of color are diagnosed at later stage, meaning that skin cancers are often advanced and potentially fatal,” said Dr. Mona Gohara, assistant clinical professor, Department of Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, who also presented at the event.
Darker skin does offer some increased protection against ultraviolet radiation, as people with dark skin have a higher melanin and eumelanin (brown-black pigment) content, which in turn reduces the risk of skin cancer induced by ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure. However, there is considerable skin color heterogeneity among people of color, according to the presentation.

L'Oréal offers a range of sun care products, including LaRoche-Posay.
Considering this, inherent sun protection within people of color varies greatly, depending on skin color types; moreover, many people aren’t even aware of the risks.

The study from L’Oréal Research & Innovation demonstrated that the highest risk of DNA damages was in light to tan skin, which includes most Hispanics and some African-Americans.

Recent sun care rollouts from L’Oréal cater to a variety of skin tones. Examples include La Roche Posay’s Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer with Sunscreen, which is said to leave a matte finish on the skin; Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid which uses universal tint technology that matches most skin tones and provides an instant glow; and Vichy’s Capital Soleil SPF 30 Luxurious Protective Oil, the brand’s first sunscreen with a higher SPF in an indulgent oil formulation. This year, Garnier also rolled out a BB cream with SPF 15 that is available in a medium/deep tone.
“By 2050, it is projected that more than half of the US population will be comprised of what is considered today as ethnic minorities,” stated Dr. Michèle Verschoore, medical director, L’Oréal Research and Innovation.“As experts in photo protection, it is important for us to increase the awareness of the fact that people of color are not immune to skin cancer.”

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