Caucasians and Skin Cancer

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Diagram: This is a graph showing out of 100,000 people how many of each race were diagnosed with melanoma cancer between the years of 1999 and 2010. Whites are the yellow line and the dark green is all races. the next races to be effected are Hispanic and Indian (also lighter skin).

What I understood from this weeks material about the relationship between race, genetics, and health is that there is a genetic component linking together race but it does not stand alone, there are also environmental factors that assist in human biology. Race is biology but is is also a cultural construct (Gravlee 53). The way I understood this is that race is like your culture, what makes you up? Such as your education, your community, your family, your religion and so on, it is not just how you look but how you act. Race is a self-proclaimed verifier, nobody can really say what your ethnicity is without doing major tests. America is the melting pot we have a little bit of everything and we are all mixed together, we all have common ancestors. The only thing that truly makes us different is how we verify ourselves and how we were raised to verify ourselves. When reading the article How Race Becomes Biology, I realized just how unsure we are about race, there are no true genes that tell us we are this race or that but rather multiple that can be different from person to person with in a race.

I chose to look into skin cancer in Caucasians, this is highly prevalent in Caucasians because of our light skin. although everyone gets sunburn so just because you do not have light skin does not meet you are exempt from skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma which is linked to UV light is the most common skin cancer in Caucasians (Gohara). Basal cell carcinoma appears where skin was exposed to the most sun.

Caucasians are way more likely to get skin cancer, as you can see in the graph above, because they have less melanin to protect them, people with darker skin have more melanin. But nobody is protected from all the effect of the sun, so everyone should take precautions when going out in the sun.

Cites:

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Skin Cancer Rates by Race and Ethnicity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/race.htm (accessed July 9, 2014).

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Gohara, Mona, and Maritza Perez. “Skin Cancer Foundation.” Skin Cancer and Skin of Color. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/skin-cancer-and-skin-of-color (accessed July 9, 2014).

Gravlee, Clarence C.. “How Race Becomes Biology: Embodiment Of Social Inequality.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139, no. 1 (2009): 47-57.

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