Filipinos are Among the Least Likely to Get Skin Cancer
It’s a sad reality that Filipinos often see fair skin as more attractive—you only have to look at how people have poked fun at dark-skinned politicians, and the prevalence of skin-whitening products on the market. But a study from German medical analyst group Derma.plus shows that having dark skin can actually be a good thing.
The 2018 Skin Cancer Index measures the incidence of skin cancer in 62 countries, along with the factors related to skin cancer, such as UV intensity and skin type. The Philippines is the eighth least susceptible to skin cancer in the world, with a skin cancer incidence score of 1.03. New Zealand, which topped the list, has an incidence score of 10.
While we’re exposed to intense UV radiation—our UV factor score is 8.48 out of 10—our skin factor score is just 2.25. The skin factor score is the country’s average skin type, and is measured based on the Fitzpatrick scale: 1 being the darkest and 10 being the fairest.
Bangladesh, which has the lowest skin cancer susceptibility in the world, has a skin factor score of 2. It’s followed by Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan—countries that all have a skin factor score of 1-3. On the other hand, the top 5 countries—New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway, have skin factor scores ranging from 4.75 to 10.
So yes, having darker skin does make us less susceptible to skin cancer. But don’t toss out the sunscreen just yet—it is still possible for dark-skinned people to develop skin cancer if they’re exposed to enough UV radiation, according to Maritza Perez MD, senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Our takeway: love the skin you’re in, and take care of it by putting on sunblock every day.