L'Oréal works to drive awareness of skin cancer risk in skin of color

NEW YORK — Beauty company L'Oréal is working to increase awareness that just because a person's skin may be darker in color does not mean he or she is immune to skin cancer.

“By the year 2050, it is projected that more than half of the U.S. population will be comprised of what is considered today as ethnic minorities,” stated Michele Verschoore, medical director of L'Oréal Research and Innovation. “As experts in photoprotection, it is important for us to increase the awareness of the fact that people of color are not immune to skin cancer.”

To spread the word, L'Oréal has gathered new relevant data on skin cancer and sun protection in skin of color, which will be sent to all U.S. dermatologists.

Studies have consistently shown that people of color are more likely to wait until the disease has reached an advanced stage to visit the dermatologist or don’t visit the dermatologist at all. This is largely because of the common misconceptions about darker skin and skin cancer.

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, and many people aren’t even aware of the risks.

In fact, recent surveys show that:

  • 65% of minority respondents believed they were not at risk for skin cancer;

  • 62% of African-American adult respondents have never worn sunscreen;

  • 31% of minority respondents have performed a self skin check;

  • 17% of minority respondents have gotten a skin check by a dermatologist; and

  • There has been a 3.4% increase in incidence of melanoma among Hispanic women in Florida.

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

“The lack of skin cancer recognition in patients of color is a problem and poses a serious health threat if left untreated,” stated Wendy Roberts, medical director of Desert Dermatology Skin Institute in Rancho Mirage, Calif. “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.”

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