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Asian Americans getting too much sun

A significant number of Asian Americans adopt unhealthy sun-exposure behaviors as they become more westernized.

Writing in the Archives of Dermatology, Dr. Anne Chang, a dermatologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, noted that "Asian Americans shouldn't derive a false sense of security from the presence of skin and hair pigmentation."

asian sun exposure damage


According to Dr. Chang's study of Asian Americans living in Northern California, the more-westernized the participants reported themselves to feel, the more likely they were to believe that a tan is attractive, that sun-screen is too much trouble to apply, and that sun-protective clothing is less important than looking fashionable

The same people spend more time in the sun and in tanning beds than those self-categorized as "less-westernized."

According to Dr. Chang, the study data corresponds with different cultural ideas about beauty and status in the two groups.

Chang noted that, "Traditional Asian cultures, in which a tan is associated with manual labor, tend to value light skin. However, western media often imply that tanned skin is attractive, possibly because it is associated with outdoor leisure activities or leisurely lifestyles."

Many Asian Americans seem to wrongly believe that their darker skin pigment protects against developing skin cancer.

"A lot of younger people don't think about the long-term effects of sun exposure," said Chang. "They may just want to look 'good' in the short term for an upcoming vacation or party. But sun and ultraviolet light can cause a lot of short- and long-term damage, leading to wrinkling and facial discoloration, as well as skin cancer."

By no means is this phenomenon limited to only those who have migrated to the West. Rates of skin cancer are reported to be rising in both Singapore and Japan.


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Asian American skin and the sun