Blonde hair (which usually goes with fair skin) is a melanoma risk factor, but what about for biracial people with olive or caramel skin?
How often have you read that “blonde hair and blue eyes” are a risk factor for melanoma, along with “fair,” “pale” or “light” skin?
Certainly you’ve read that dark skinned people have a lower risk for melanoma when compared to light skinned people.
So here’s an interesting question that I posed to Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a board certified dermatologist with Baxt CosMedical, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at NYU, and member of the Skin Cancer Foundation:
Is blonde hair relevant as an added risk factor for melanoma in a person who’s biracial?
After all, some biracial individuals have varying shades of blonde hair.
“These are questions that we really don’t know exact answers to,” says Dr. Baxter, “as there are no good prospective studies looking at eye color and hair color and parentage and how much skin cancer these populations develop.
“From clinical experience, darker skinned people have lower risks of all skin cancers, but not zero risk.”
An even more interesting question is if blonde hair means an increased risk of melanoma in a very dark skinned individual.
Below are natives of the Solomon Islands who have a gene called TYRP1, which causes blonde hair.
As Dr. Baxt has stated, there is no data on this. Nevertheless, no human is immune to melanoma.
In fact, biracial people and those with a deeper olive complexion, have been known to get the sun-related skin cancers of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
And don’t forget that sun exposure and light skin are not the only risk factors for melanoma, especially the type of tumor that develops inside the mouth, nose or eye. Genetics do play a role, even in those with dark skin. Researchers also believe there are risk factors not yet discovered.