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05-31-14 | Posted by

People with darker skin tones may think they have a built in barrier against skin cancer, but according to the Women’s Dermatologic Society, this just isn’t true. African American are more likely to die of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than Caucasians, even though Caucasians are much more likely to develop the disease. The five-year survival rate for African Americans is 78%, significantly lower than the rate for Caucasians, which is 92%.

The reason for this is simple: the common misconception that protection from the sun is not necessary for those with darker skin tones. As a result, people of color are more likely to wait until the disease has reached an advanced stage to visit the dermatologist, or worse, don’t visit the dermatologist at all.

And it’s not just people of color who eschew sunscreen; 51% of Americans don’t use sunscreen because of texture, according to a study by La Roche Posay, which markets the dermatologist recommended Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid.

The Women’s Dermatologic Society has teamed up with La Roche-Posay to educate the public about sunscreen using two key motivators: 1) Sunscreen can make your skin more healthy and beautiful, and 2) Sunscreens don’t have to feel greasy or leave a chalky finish.

This approach came about due to a recent La Roche-Posay study, presented at last winter’s American Academy of Dermatology meeting, which showed daily sunscreen use can improve the overall quality of skin for all skin tones. In fact, 90% of Hispanics showed an improvement in the intensity of dark spots, and 64% of those with skin of color showed an improvement in the number of dark spots.

“As the new president of the WDS, it’s so important that we are all properly educated about the risks of sun exposure and proper sunscreen use,” says Valerie Callender, MD, WDS president. “This is particularly important since the U.S. population is rapidly changing. By the year 2050, more than half of our country’s population will be comprised of ethnic minorities. Daily sunscreen use is clinically proven to not only help in the prevention of skin cancer, but also improves the overall health and quality of skin.”

Supported by the La Roche-Posay SOS – Save Our Skin initiative, the Women’s Dermatologic Society’s Play Safe in the Sun campaign is spreading the awareness of the importance of sunscreen to ethnic communities. Free skin screenings and sunscreen samples will be offered around the country at various sporting, health, and family events, including:

  • June 14: Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure (St. Louis, MO)
  • July 22-27: LPGA International Crown (Owings Mills, MD)
  • September 7: Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure (New York, NY)
  • September 21: Rock N’Roll Marathon (Philadelphia, PA)
  • September 24-27: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation – Annual Conference (Washington, DC)

For more information about related events and  free skin cancer screenings, visit www.womensderm.org or www.sossaveourskin.com.

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