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Archived Comments for: Sun protection and exposure behaviors among Hispanic adults in the United States: differences according to acculturation and among Hispanic subgroups

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  1. Hispanic-Americans have skin pigmentation well suited to solar UV in the United States

    William B. Grant, Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center

    10 March 2013

    The paper by Coups et al. [1] suggests that Hispanics in the United States should be more concerned about protecting themselves from solar ultraviolet (UV) irradiance even though they have one-seventh the incidence of skin cancer as white non-Hispanic Americans. Unfortunately, this paper focuses on one very minor adverse health risk for Hispanics without putting this risk in the context of overall health. Solar UVB is the primary source of vitamin D for most Americans [2], and vitamin D has many health benefits [3,4]. Hispanic Americans have lower serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations than white non-Hispanic Americans [5] due to darker skin pigmentation. Skin pigmentation adapts to where a people live for a millennium or longer, dark enough to reduce folate destruction, free radical formation and DNA damage yet light enough to permit adequate production of vitamin D [6]. Therefore, most Hispanics living in the United States have skin pigmentation well suited for living in the sunny Southwest without developing skin cancer, which is where many of them live. Adequate serum 25(OH)D concentrations are above 30 ng/ml [7]. It was estimated that if Americans were to double serum 25(OH)D concentrations, the avoided premature death rate could be near 400,000/ year, although there would be some increased incidence and death from skin cancer and melanoma [8].

    1.Coups EJ, Stapleton JL, Hudson SV, Medina-Forrester A, Natale-Pereira A, Goydos JS. Sun protection and exposure behaviors among Hispanic adults in the United States: differences according to acculturation and among Hispanic subgroups. BMC Public Health. 2012;12(1):985. [Epub ahead of print]

    2. Godar DE, Pope SJ, Grant WB, Holick MF. Solar UV doses of adult Americans and vitamin D(3) production. Dermatoendocrinol. 2011;3(4):243-250.

    3. Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-281.

    4. Grant WB. Ecological studies of the UVB¿vitamin D¿cancer hypothesis; review. Anticancer Res. 2012;32(1):223-236.

    5. Ginde AA, Liu MC, Camargo CA Jr. Demographic differences and trends of vitamin D insufficiency in the US population, 1988-2004. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626-632.

    6. Jablonski NG, Chaplin G. Colloquium paper: human skin pigmentation as an adaptation to UV radiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107 Suppl 2:8962-8968.

    7. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, Murad MH, Weaver CM. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2011;96(7):1911-1930.

    8. Grant WB. In defense of the sun: An estimate of changes in mortality rates in the United States if mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were raised to 45 ng/mL by solar ultraviolet-B irradiance. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009;1(4):207-214.

    Competing interests

    I receive funding from the UV Foundation (McLean, VA), Bio-Tech Pharmacal (Fayetteville, AR), the Vitamin D Council (San Luis Obispo, CA), the Vitamin D Society (Canada), and the Sunlight Research Forum (Veldhoven).