Sun sensitivity in 5 US ethnoracial groups

Cutis. 2007 Jul;80(1):25-30.


Some sun safety activities have included only non-Hispanic white individuals, even though individuals in other ethnoracial groups may be at risk for skin cancer. The objectives of this study were to investigate distributions of self-reported Fitzpatrick skin type within 5 ethnoracial groups and substantiate each group's self-report with an objective measure. The study used a cross-sectional design. The research was conducted at 70 postal stations in Southern California. Participants were US Postal Service letter carriers and included 115 Pacific Islanders, 222 black individuals, 329 Asians, 513 Hispanics, and 1364 non-Hispanic white individuals. Participants self-reported skin type and had skin color measurements taken with colorimeters. Some individuals in each ethnoracial group reported having sun-sensitive skin. Correlation tests assessing the relationship between skin type and colorimeter data showed substantial associations for each group except Asians. Future sun safety research and educational messages should include all potentially high-risk individuals, irrespective of ethnoracial identity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Sunburn / ethnology*
  • Sunburn / etiology
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*