Latinos Need to Better Protect Themselves from the Sun, Study Says

Latinos might have darker skin but they still need to do a better job to protect themselves against the sun, according to a recent study.

The study says as Latinos begin to acculturate in the U.S. culture, they become more concerned with their skin and use more sunscreen – but they still have a long way to go in skin cancer prevention.

While they begin wearing sun screen the longer they are in the country, they don’t, for example, wear sun-protective clothing like long-sleeve shirts and long pants to cover themselves from the sun.

“Acculturated Latinos might have increased exposure to sun safety information via health care access, education, and expanded social networks but display decreased engagement in some sun-safe behaviors,” says the study, published in the July issue of Archives of Dermatology.

About 4.5 of every 100,000 Latinos have melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. That’s a 28.6 percent jump from 10 years ago, the article says.

“In addition, Latinos exhibit persistently higher rates of thick melanoma at diagnosis compared with non-Latino whites,” the study says.

An accompanying commentary written by two dermatologists at the Department of Dermatology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center says Latinos are at an increasing risk of getting melanoma, and they call for better public health campaigns to make Latinos more aware of the risks.

It calls dermatologist’s failure to recognize the problem a “practice gap,” and suggested it could be because of a lack of Latino dermatologists and a lack of centers that study ethnic skin.