Obesity, high blood pressure, HIV and AIDS, arthritis, heart attacks, diabetes and sickle cell disease. These are all health problems that are high risk in the African-American community, but one topic that's not heard of as much is skin cancer. However, just because it's not discussed often doesn't mean blacks shouldn't be using sunblock, especially for those who prefer the bald look.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2006, out of 53,919 people who were diagnosed with skin cancer, only 311 were black. Out of that 311, there were 126 blacks who died from melanomas. The two most common skin cancers that can be cured are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma, which was what all of the above statistics were based on.
Part of the reason that black people, specifically darker-skinned black people, may be less likely to suffer from UV rays that cause skin cancer is it's usually caused from too much exposure to tanning beds and sunlamps. Although there are black people who sporadically tan, the melanin in black people's skin makes tanning almost counterproductive. We're already tan. However, anybody who has had too much exposure to the sun can be at risk for melanoma, including construction workers who are in the sun for hours at a time.
So what can be done about it? For those who choose to shave their hair off, don't ignore the skin on your head. Rubbing sunblock on your arms, legs, back and shoulders is useful. But if you're not wearing a cap or hat to cover the skin on your head, make sure to wear sunblock on your head, too. Petroleum jelly and regular moisturizing lotion don't count without the SPF.
Chicago beaches have closed for the summer and while Chicago's fall is leaning more towards early winter, be prepared for those sporadic hot days. Check out moisturizing products that include sun protective factor (SPF) with ultra-violet A rays (UVA), which extends 320 to 400 nm in wavelength, or ultra-violet B rays (UVB), which extends 280 to 320 nm in wavelength.
While products like cocoa butter and aloe vera provide relief from sunburn, the idea is to use SPF to avoid getting sunburn at all. There are also cocoa butter products (ex. Palmer's SPF 30 swivel stick and gel) that include SPF 15 or higher in the product to moisturize and to protect against the sun.
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