Sunscreen wouldn’t have saved Bob Marley from melanoma, and it won’t help other dark-skinned people

Source: The Conversation , June 2019

Melanoma is a potentially deadly form of skin cancer linked to overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Sunscreen can block UV rays and therefore reduce the risk of sun burns, which ultimately reduces the risk of developing melanoma. Thus, the promotion of sunscreen as an effective melanoma prevention strategy is a reasonable public health message.

While this may be true for light-skinned people, such as individuals of European descent, this is not the case for darker skinned people, or individuals of African descent.

The public health messages promoted by many clinicians and public health groups regarding sunscreen recommendations for dark skin people is incongruent with the available evidence. Media messagingexacerbate the problem with headline after headline warning that black people can also develop melanoma and that blacks are not immune. To be sure, blacks can get melanoma, but the risk is very low. In the same way, men can develop breast cancer, however, we do not promote mammography as a strategy to fight breast cancer in men.

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