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People of colour do need to use sun creams, and other similar products to protect their skin from harm. It is a myth that people with darker skin tones never get skin cancer. However, it is true that the chances of developing the most common form of skin cancer are much much lower. We must emphasise, it is very uncommon for people with darker skin tones to be diagnosed with the most common skin cancers (Squamous Cell Carcinoma - SCC and Basal Cell Carcinoma- BCC). However, it is not impossible. Exposure to the suns rays can be prolonged as some BME community members experience improved living conditions and better health outcomes. People are generally

living for longer periods under the sun and even if they live in cooler less sunny countries, taking more trips abroad to sunnier countries.

American studies have shown that the lighter the skin tone, the higher the risk. People of mixed heritage with lighter skin tones should be particularly aware of their increased risk. Long term exposure to harmful radiation from the sun and regular use of sunbeds may increase the risk. BME parents who traditionally may never have used protective skin products, should ensure younger children, in particular, follow sun safety guidelines.

Areas where the skin tone is lighter like the palms of hands or the soles of feet, should not be excluded when using skin protective products. This is where a type of skin cancer called melanoma is more likely to develop in people of colour, though it is still very uncommon.

We all need some sunshine for the production of vitamin D, an important vitamin that is currently raising some controversy in relation to cancer risk reduction (more information to follow). People of colour are often found to have lower than expected levels of vitamin D in comparison to their White counterparts, as the melanin in their skin can mean that more sunshine is needed to raise vitamin D levels. In Northern Europe for example, where there is now a significant Black and Asian population, there may generally be less sunshine than in the country of origin.

Low vitamin D levels are a concern for all, whatever the skin tone, as changes in lifestyle and sometimes clothing (If the skin is totally covered) may impact vitamin D levels in our bodies. Doctors who work in General Practice in the UK are aware of the impact of low vitamin D levels in maternity services and there is a growing body of evidence around the benefits of vitamin D and its relationship to cancer. We are following the latest information with interest and encouraging further research as this is an important subject for many of our service users.

We encourage balance, the sun-safe message is important, as melanoma a more aggressive form of skin cancer is on the increase and it is affecting more younger people, but we also need sufficient levels of vitamin D to maintain good health.

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