If You Are Dark Skinned Stop Wasting Your Money On Sunscreen Products as They Do Not Prevent Skin Cancer Dermatologist Affirms

Sunscreen is commonly recommended for people that are looking to keep melanoma or skin cancer at bay. However, a dermatologist contends that it is a myth that it will help people of color to prevent the condition.



Melanoma is the most severe type of skin cancer and develops in cells that produce the pigment melanin. It grows rapidly and can spread to different organs in the body, thereby posing a serious threat to life.

This highly dangerous skin cancer cuts across all racial and ethnic groups. Ultraviolet (UV) ray exposure is the biggest risk factor for developing melanoma. Sunburns from UV rays are believed to double a person’s risk of having the condition.

Read Also: Melanoma Treatment: Tetracycline Can Help Treat Certain Forms of Skin Cancer

Therefore, sunscreen has long been promoted as a means of protecting against UV rays. It reduces sunburn risk and so could lower the odds of developing melanoma.

Sunscreen, however, can only help light-skinned people reduce their risk of developing serious skin cancer. This is according to Dr. Adewole S. Adamson, a board-certified dermatologist. The protection won’t help much, if at all, for dark-skinned people, he argued.

UV exposure and melanin in people of color

It is no longer news that people of African or Asian descent can also develop melanoma as people of other races. Their risk of developing the condition may only be considerably lower.

Melanoma occurs more often among white people. In America, this group is about 30 times more likely to have it, compared to Black people.

Evidence suggests that the occurrence of the “black tumor” in Black has little or nothing to do with UV exposure. These people typically develop skin cancer in parts that are not greatly exposed to the sun, including the palms and the soles. Cancers in these areas are referred to as acral melanomas.

Scientists have yet to prove a notable relationship between acral melanoma and UV exposure, even among white people.

In his The Conversation article, Dr. Adamson referred to a systematic review of studies carried out with other researchers. The team found no relationship between melanoma and UV exposure in 11 out of 13 qualified studies.

One of the remaining two studies reported a positive relationship between UV exposure and melanoma in Black males. Yet, it failed to observe the same in other groups, including white males and females who are typically known to display the relationship.

The second study that showed a relationship involved men from Chile. But a major limitation was that the city that had the most melanoma cases boasted a large number of people of Croatian (European) ancestry. Those individuals were, therefore, not largely people of color.

Dr. Adamson also noted that none of the studies took into account the melanin levels of subjects. This suggests that they did not even confirm that being light-skinned made a person more likely to develop melanoma from UV exposure.

Read Also: NIH: Fecal Transplant Boosts Immunotherapy Response in People with Advanced Melanoma

Increased melanin in darker skins significantly reduces UV-induced DNA damage. Sunscreen may help people of color more for dealing with other issues, such as sunburns and photoaging, than for lowering melanoma risk.

Need to alter messaging

Public health messages need to be tweaked, according to Dr. Adamson. These currently suggest that people, including Black, can reduce their risk of developing skin cancer by using sunscreen. Messaging is universal and not tailored to individual groups.

The health services researcher noted that these messages lack research evidence to support them. There is no study to prove that sunscreen prevents skin cancer in Black people, he pointed out.

Dermatologists and public health experts need to change how they teach people to guard against melanoma. Black people should not just be directed to adopt an unproven prevention strategy, advised Dr. Adamson.

The director of pigmented lesion clinic at Dell Medical School also referred to two new studies that suggested sunscreen may even pose unknown risks. The research showed that chemical ingredients in the product can find their way into the blood when used in large amounts. More worryingly, most of the subjects in those studies were Black, a group less likely to benefit from use.

Read Also: Skin Cancer: Purdue University Researchers Make a Skin Patch That Can Treat Melanoma


Skin cancer and photoprotection in people of color: A review and recommendations for physicians and the public

UV Exposure and the Risk of Cutaneous Melanoma in Skin of Color

UV-induced DNA damage and melanin content in human skin differing in racial/ethnic origin



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