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Linguistic Acculturation and the Trend of Skin Cancer among Hispanic Males

What role does acculturation play in skin cancer?  A web survey conducted in September 2011 sheds light on this question through studying linguistic acculturation among Hispanic males and how the behaviors they adapt from multiple cultures actually increases their risk of skin cancer.  This study provides the most comprehensive research on this correlation to date.


The Skinny on this Study:

The main behaviors under evaluation were: using sunscreen, seeking shade, using sun protective clothing, sunbathing, and indoor tanning.  Based on the survey, 24% of Hispanics used sunscreen, 54% stayed in the shade, 32% wore a hat, 24% wore a long-sleeved shirt, 58% wore pants, and 12% had done indoor tanning in the last year. 


English-acculturated Hispanics were at a higher risk of skin cancer as they didn’t seek shade or sun protective clothing as frequently and sunbathed and tanned more frequently than Spanish-acculturated Hispanics.  Likewise, bicultural Hispanics sunbathed and tanned at higher rates. 


This study led to the conclusion that while Hispanic adults do not take consistent precautions to prevent skin cancer, English-acculturated and Bicultural Hispanics were at an even greater risk due to the cultural behaviors they had adopted.


This information is especially pertinent to skin cancer prevention as melanoma has been increasing among Hispanics over the past several decades.  This diagnosis is emerging at earlier ages and in more advanced forms.  Due to this rising threat, and the risk factors made clear in the study, it is essential that clinicians speak to Hispanic patients, especially those who are English-acculturated or bicultural, about skin cancer prevention.  This calls for a greater cultural awareness in the field of dermatology, and the necessity of targeting this growing population of people within the US.


Sources: 1, 2


[image by Mulloy Morrow]

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