Hispanic Teens Take More Skin Cancer Risks

MONDAY Aug. 20, 2007 -- Hispanic-American teens are more likely than their white peers to take risks that boost their odds for skin cancer, a new survey finds.

Reporting in the August issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology, a team at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine surveyed 369 high school students (221 white Hispanics and 148 white non-Hispanics).

They found that Hispanic teens were more likely to use tanning beds, less likely to consider themselves at risk for skin cancer, and less likely to protect themselves from the sun.

Compared to white non-Hispanics, white Hispanics were:

  • More likely to tan deeply (44.2 percent vs. 31 percent).
  • About 1.8 times more likely to never or rarely use sun-protective clothing.
  • About twice as likely to never or rarely use sunscreen.
  • 2.5 times more likely to have used a tanning bed in the previous year.
  • 60 percent less likely to have heard of skin self-examination and 70 percent less likely to have been told how to do it.
  • Less likely to think they had an average or above-average risk for skin cancer (23.1 percent vs. 39.9 percent).

There's a real need to improve participation of white Hispanic students in skin cancer prevention programs, the authors concluded.

Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays is a major risk factor for skin cancers, and a person's majority of lifetime UV exposure occurs by age 18, the Miami team noted. White Hispanics have a lower rate of skin cancer than white non-Hispanics, but white Hispanics are more likely to be diagnosed with more advanced skin cancer.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers sun safety tips.

Posted: August 2007


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