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Asian Americans approach sun protection differently from other groups, study finds

Asian Americans approach sun protection differently from other groups, study finds
Asian Americans differ in their skin protection behaviors from those in other racial and ethnic groups, a new study has found. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Asian Americans protect themselves from the sun's potentially harmful rays differently from those in other racial and ethnic groups, and future research into skin cancer risk needs to take these distinctions into account, a study published Wednesday by JAMA Dermatology found.

Up to 40% of Asian Americans surveyed indicated that they did not consistently use "sun-protective" strategies, such as applying sunscreen, staying in the shade, wearing long-sleeved shirts and wearing hats when outdoors, the data showed.

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Those surveyed were nearly 50% less likely than White Americans to use sunscreen or wear a hat when out in the sun, but were about 90% more likely to wear long-sleeved shirts and 50% more likely to wear long clothing to cover their legs to the ankles, the researchers said.

"These differences are important to identify ways Asian Americans can further reduce ultraviolet exposure and to reduce skin cancer risks," study co-author Dr. Howa Yeung told UPI in an email.

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"Even though Asian Americans may have lower risks of skin cancer than White populations, more can be done" to educate them on the risks and the need for protection, said Yeung, assistant professor of dermatology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

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The Asian American population has nearly doubled since the start of the 21st century, to 23 million in 2019 from 12 million in 2000, according to figures from Pew Research.

Despite this population growth, Asian Americans remain underrepresented in healthcare research, including assessments of skin cancer risk, studies suggest.

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This may be because the disease is far less common in Asian Americans compared with White Americans, based on figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings from Yeung and his colleagues are based on more than 84,000 responses to a national survey.

About 5,700, or 7% of the respondents were Asian American, including Indian Americans, Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans and Japanese Americans, the researchers said.

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All Asian Americans were more likely to seek shade, wear long clothing and wear long-sleeved shirts but less likely to sunburn, apply sunscreen, tan indoors and receive total body skin examinations than White Americans, the data showed.

"We encourage everyone, including Asian Americans, to avoid excessive sun exposure and to discuss skin cancer prevention and other skin issues with board-certified dermatologists," Yeung said.

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