“Why is the skin cancer rate so high in Israel?”

 “Why is the skin cancer rate so high in Israel?”

“Why is the skin cancer rate so high in Israel?”_ichhori.com

According to the Israel Cancer Association, Israel has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. In Israel, there were 3,631 skin cancer patients by the end of 2000, with roughly 200 people dying each year.
Israel has a high risk of skin cancer due to its hot environment, which is ideal for persons with dark skin. The bulk of Israelis are Europeans who do not belong in that region of the world; their genetics are not adapted to living in the Middle East for long periods at a time. Israelis live in one of the hottest parts of the Middle East, but they dress like Westerners. As a result, people frequently wear clothes that expose their skin to extremely hot sunlight. Approximately 500 years ago, a large portion of the population (mainly Ashkenazim and Mountain Jews) lived in extremely frigid climate. This isn’t to say they are not “real” Middle Easterners. But after a long period in exile, they are merely readjusting to the climate.
According to a Health Ministry report spanning the years 1998 to 2000, Israel ranks second to Australia in terms of malignant melanoma cases. Malignant melanoma is found in 14.8 cases per 100,000 men and 14.4 cases per 100,000 women in Israel. This is less than half the rate in Australia, but greater in North America, double the rate in the European Union, and up to 14 times higher than all other continents combined.
The high risk of skin cancer in Israel is due to the significant number of European and North American immigrants, whose fair skin is prone to the desert climate. Dress styles that expose more of the body and skin to the sun than is common in adjacent nations increases the risk. Only about 10% of skin cancers can be explained by genetics, and even then, only among Ashkenazis. The increased cancer rates in the 1990’s are a result of the 1970’s and 1980’s negligent and excessive sun exposure. (Dr. Micha Barhana)

BRCA2 gene mutation

Skin cancer is worse for Jews. Skin cancer is more common in people who have a mutation in the BRCA2 gene, which increases the risk of breast, ovarian, prostrate, and pancreatic cancer. Because the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes produce proteins that are involved in repairing damaged DNA, which helps keep cells from growing and dividing too quickly, mutations in these genes prevent DNA repair, allowing potentially harmful mutations to persist. As these abnormalities accumulate, they can stimulate cells to expand and divide uncontrollably and become malignant tumours.
While one in every 400 people in the overall possesses the BRCA mutations, Jews have a one in every 40 chance of developing a BRCA mutation-related cancer, making them ten times more likely than the general population.


The largest population segment of skin cancer patients, according to the Health Ministry, is those of European and North American ancestry (400 new cases in 2000), followed by those born in Israel (400 new cases), people of African origin (40 cases), people of Asian orgin (25 cases), and Arabs (15 cases). 
Because skin cancer is caused by exposure to the sun, the majority of patients develop the disease on the face and back of the neck (56% of men and 40% of women), arms and shoulders (17% of men and 24% of women), and legs (16% of men and 27% of women). 

Skin cancer rates dropping in recent years

Skin cancer is more common in people with fair skin, although it can also affect people with darker skin. Skin cancer, as well as other cancers are more likely to develop in those who have the BRCA2 gene mutation. One in 400 people carry the BRCA mutation, which is unfortunately more common in Jews with a rate of 1 in 40.
Israel was once one of the world’s countries with the highest incidence of skin cancer. According to the ICA, Israel has dropped from third place in terms of skin cancer cases. Israel is now ranked 13th for men and 20th for women, which indicates a significant improvement.
The ICA’s continued efforts to raise public awareness have resulted in a decrease in skin cancer cases in recent years. Statistics show that survival rates are also on the rise. To raise public awareness and to educate the public, the ICA has invested in a Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign. They underlined the need of avoiding the sun during the warmest hours of the day and taking precautions to protect one’s skin when in the sun. Early detection is also critical, which is why it is recommended that people visit a dermatologist once a year to get screened for the disease.

Cutting-edge research

Researchers in Israel are working on ways to prevent melanoma cells from migrating and spreading. Scientists can develop treatment methods once they know what exactly happens in migrating cells and which gene is important. The Cancer Research Institute in the United States is collaborating with Israeli experts to assist in this breakthrough. This will allow Israeli’s greatest researchers to concentrate on immunotherapy research. Any successful research will have an impact on people all over the world.
Israel had one of the highest melanoma rates in the world just 10 years ago. Then followed increased awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, as well as a campaign to screen thousands of individuals for BRCA mutations and notify them if they have a higher risk of developing the disease. This endeavour, which was partially supported by the Israel Cancer Research Fund, has aided in lowering Israel’s melanoma rate.

Efforts in research

Dr. Gabi Gerlitz of Ariel University has researched the inner workings of melanoma cells that migrate (metastasize) in the hopes of finding a way to stop them. Patients with cancer die 90% of the time form cancerous cells migrating to vital organs rather than from the main tumour. Gerlitz and his colleagues started by looking at the DNA in migratory melanoma cells’ nuclei. They discovered that when a cell begins to migrate, its DNA contracts, as if it were packing for a journey. Gerlitz began researching how and when DNA contracts in order to travel across cells after observing how it impacts the gene.

Dr. Cyrille Cohen, the head of the cancer immunology and immunotherapy lab at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, is utilising an ICRF research funding to focus on cancer immunotherapy: how to boost and enhance the immune system to prevent or treat cancer. Cohen’s work focuses on understanding and genetically manipulating T-cell cancer responses, which are critical for eradicating viruses and coordinating wide immune responses. His team has devised methods to alter those cells’ responses in order to strengthen them when they are exposed to cancer cells. This method allows for a more personalized approach to cancer treatment. 

Because it focuses on all critical components of reducing skin cancer numbers and death, the three-pronged approach of awareness, identification and research is highly effective. The public just needs to be aware of the consequences of excessive sun exposure. We must do everything we can to limit our exposure to the sunlight for the time being. Especially during the day’s warmest hours. It is also a good idea to keep as much skin covered as possible. Always apply sunscreen to any exposed skin.


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