People with darker skin are also vulnerable to the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the Sun and indoor tanning beds, a new study has warned.
Researchers said fair skinned people are known to be at higher risk for skin cancer and other problems associated with too much exposure to the Sun.
"Darker skin has more pigment-making cells, which provide inherent protection against UV rays, but not enough," said Adam Friedman, director of dermatologic research, Montefiore Medical Center.
"This unique biological difference means harmful effects of UV exposure occur more slowly in people of colour, but UV rays are still damaging and can cause cosmetic problems and serious conditions like skin cancer," Friedman said. While skin cancer is rarer in people of colour, it can be extremely serious when diagnosis is delayed.
For example, melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer, is 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans, but people with darker skin are at greater risk of late diagnosis with advanced, thicker melanomas and lower survival rates.