Skin Cancer Among Caucasians

Race, genetics, and health are all related in some way or another. Race is a little harder to define because it is not necessarily something that can be determined by tests, it is mostly constructed from a cultural point of view. To me, race is something made up of your culture, beliefs, religion, community, and many other factors. Race isn’t determined by a person’s biological make-up, so it is not related to genetics. I think that health can be related to race because some diseases/illnesses are more prevalent in certain races. For example, malaria in African-Americans and skin cancer in Caucasians. Not necessarily related to race alone, but could be caused by a number of things related to race and ethnicity, such as environment and available resources. All people, no matter the race, have the same biological make up and genetics. Genetics definitely play a role in health, however. Many diseases or traits are passed from parents to offspring, which can result in many differences in health in the offspring based on the genetic composure.

The health disparity I chose was skin cancer in caucasians because it is such a prevalent topic today because of not only genetic factors but also social determinants. Genetically, caucasians are most susceptible to skin cancer in comparison to other races due to the lack of melanin in the skin protecting against harmful UV rays that can cause different types of skin cancer. Darker skinned people have more melanin to protect their skin than caucasians. Social determinants come into play, especially in American Caucasians. In today’s society, it is typically a social norm to tan indoors in tanning beds with high exposure to harmful UV rays. Appearance is a highly important thing today and many caucasians, myself guilty, expose themselves to UV rays to appear more tan/bronze. Caucasians are more likely to tan because of the obvious difference in skin color, being the lightest race. Because caucasians typically tan more than other races, that could be a reason that skin cancer is so much more prevalent in caucasians.

2010_skin_race_incidence

These graphs show exactly how many caucasian men/women have skin cancer in comparison to other races.

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 10, 2014).

 

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Anya Odabasic says:

    Although I think of race and genetics more closely related than you do, I really like how you connected the three here and said that health is more than just genetics. I don’t really agree that all people have the same genetics. To me, genetics says more about what diseases you are predisposed to based on your race. For example I wrote about Cystic Fibrosis and there is a theory that Caucasians are more likely to have Cystic Fibrosis because of a gene developed long ago when bacterial diseases that caused diarrhea and vomitting were rampant throughout Europe. If someone is not from that area, such as an African American, they would not have that “gene”.

    Because of proven studies I definitely agree that different races play a role in clinical health studies. If you are a dermatologist analyzing a Caucasian versus an Indian, you would probably be more open to looking for melanomas on the Caucasian than the Indian patient. Although this is a good way to keep certain diseases in check, there are also many other factors to consider. For example, I am of Serbian decent so my skin color is a little darker than white but I was born in America and have lived here all of my life. I have also been exposed to UV from tanning beds and live the American lifestyle, does that make me more susceptible to skin cancer?

    We are all predisposed to different diseases based on our ethnicity but I think a better way of looking at it would be to consider other factors more heavily such as family history. You can’t change your ethnicity so you might as well do the things possible to prevent the disease as well as you can. Such as avoiding tanning beds and applying sunscreen.

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