Skin Cancer Among Caucasians

2010_skin_race_incidence

Race has been used throughout history as a reason to separate people.  Race has been used to say that certain people are inferior for centuries because since their skin is a different color, they must have different genes.   Race is not necessarily related to genetics because race is very subjective.  The thing that most contributes to genetic variation is geographic proximity.  For example, the Pima Indians in Arizona have very high rates of diabetes, but their relatives in Mexico have way lower rates of diabetes.  This shows that other factors, besides race, have contributed to their high rates of diabetes.  The thrifty genotype that the Pima Indians have developed has allowed them to survive in famine, but now with the food they have eaten since the loss of their agriculture, diabetes has developed.  A combination of genetic, geographic and socioeconomic factors has contributed to the high rates of diabetes among the Pima Indians.

I chose skin cancer among caucasians because I have known many people who have had problems with skin cancer.  Melanin helps protect the skin against the effects of the sun.  People with darker skin have more melanin.  Caucasians have less melanin, therefore, they are less protected from the sun.  Caucasians have light skin and less melanin because historically they have lived farther away from the equator where the sun’s UV rays are less severe so they do not need as much protection.  People with darker skin have lived where the skin’s UV rays are stronger, so their bodies have produced more melanin to protect them from the sun, therefore making their skin darker.  Since the caucasians do not have as much melanin in their body to protect them from the UV rays, they are more susceptible to skin cancer.  It is genetic factors and geographic factors that have contributed to the high rates of skin cancer among caucasians.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Skin Cancer Rates By Race and Ethnicity.” August 12, 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/race.htm.

Calvin College openURL resolverSkin Cancer Foundation. “Skin Cancer and Skin of Color.” Accessed July 10, 2014. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/skin-cancer-and-skin-of-color

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Hannah Weiss says:

    I think you did an incredible job at explaining the difference between race and genetics by first talking about the Prima Indians. It is such a great example to be able to see why some groups of people are more prone to get an illness not because of their race but because of their ancestors and where they come from. When you discussed skin cancer in Caucasians you gave great examples on why there are at higher risk and why it deals with geography of a people and not their genetics. Although I do not think separating people by race is a reason to judge or treat a patient I do think that racial categories can help infer or rule out certain diseases. As you said, a Caucasian person has more of a risk of skin cancer So a health professional should know these statistics so they can look out for certain illnesses in different groups of people and be aware. In my article I talked about Jews with Tay Sachs and not just any Jews but Ashkenazi specifically. This shows that where you come from does matter and can increase your chances of certain illnesses that should be looked out for in communities.

Leave a Reply