Black Canadian skin color linked to health

Oct. 13, 2011 at 11:55 PM
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Black Canadians with darker skin are more likely to report poorer health than black Canadians with lighter skin, researchers say.

Study author Gerry Veenstra of the University of British Columbia and colleagues surveyed the self-reported racial identities -- Asian, Black, South Asian and White -- of nearly 1,500 participants from Vancouver and Toronto for four key health indicators: high blood pressure, depression, mental health and overall health.

Some findings supported existing research -- such as black Canadians are more likely than others to report high blood pressure and that Asian-Canadians are most likely to report poorer mental health, Veenstra said.

The study, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, found black Canadians with darker skin were as much as four times more likely than black Canadians with lighter skin to report poor overall health.

"The findings indicate that, for black Canadians, levels of discrimination can depend on the relative darkness or lightness of their skin. For health researchers and policymakers, this means that the broad racial classifications typically used by health researchers may actually underestimate the magnitude of racial health inequalities in this country," Veenstra said in a statement. "This is a first step to understanding colorism's manifestations in Canada and the degree to which and for whom it affects health and well-being."

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