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“I’m black. I don’t need sunscreen.”

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this I would be chilling by the seaside in Seychelles, sipping a cocktail and competing with Alhaji Dangote for his position on the Forbes list.

A lot of us (black folks) don’t think that we need to wear sunscreen. The argument is that our melanin protects us from the sun and the havoc it can wreak. Parts of that statement are correct but it is not correct in totality. Sun exposure can lead to a range of conditions from hyperpigmentation of the skin all the way to skin cancer. While melanin does protect Africans (and those of African descent) from the sun’s rays more than, say, an Asian or European, it only gives about SPF13-SPF15 protection and this doesn’t block the harmful effects of the sun.

There can be abnormal melanocytes formed and distributed in the skin. This is called dyspigmentation.

If you take nothing away from this post, please take this away: black people can and do suffer from skin cancer.

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