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Asian American Individuals and Risk of Developing Skin Cancer

By: Victoria Kuhr, BA
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2022

Asian American individuals tended to stay in the shade more often but applied sunscreen less frequently than non-Hispanic White individuals, based on the findings of a cross-sectional study of self-reported outcomes. Howa Yeung, MD, MSc, of Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, and colleagues propose that associations of darker skin tones with lower socioeconomic status may play a role in patterns of sun-protective behaviors among Asian American Individuals. The findings of this study were published in JAMA Dermatology.

“Disaggregated comparisons among Asian American individuals demonstrated differences in skin cancer risk factors that may be used to identify high-risk subgroups and inform culturally aware counseling when indicated,” concluded the authors.

The study analyzed the National Health Interview Survey data from the survey years of 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015. Data were analyzed from July to November 2021. Self-identified Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, non-Hispanic White, and other Asian individuals answered questions about their health behaviors. Health behaviors assessed included sunburns, sun-protective behaviors, indoor tanning, and total-body skin examinations for skin cancer.

Of the 84,030 participants enrolled in the study, 5,694 were Asian American (6.8%) and 78,336 (93.2%) were non-Hispanic White; of these individuals, 1,073 (21.0%) were Asian Indian, 1,165 (19.4%) were Chinese, 1,312 (23.5%) were Filipino, and 2,144 (36.1%) were other Asian. All Asian American subgroups were more likely to seek shade, wear long clothing to the ankles, and don long-sleeved shirts but less likely to sunburn, apply sunscreen, tan indoors, or undergo total-body skin examination than non-Hispanic White individuals. The prevalence of sunburns in the past year was 12.4% among Asian Indian, 20.2% among Chinese, 24.2% among Filipino, and 19.0% among other Asian individuals. The rate of frequent use of at least one sun-protective behavior was 62.9% among Asian Indian, 65.7% among Chinese, 70.7% among Filipino, and 66.1% among other Asian individuals.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit jamanetwork.com.


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