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The use of skin-lightening products among foreign women in the Netherlands: prevalence and side-effects.

Lamkaddem, M., Devillé, W., Gomes, P.D., Westerhof, W., Dijk, L. van. The use of skin-lightening products among foreign women in the Netherlands: prevalence and side-effects. European Journal of Public Health: 2002, 12(suppl. 4), p. 72. Abstract. 10th Annual Eupha Meeting 'Bridging the gap between research and policy in public health' in Dresden, Germany 28 - 30 november 2002.
Background: The use of skin-lightening products is a common though hazardous practice in many African countries that increased over the last three decades. Components such as hydroquinone, corticoids, and mercury are found in OTC products. A previous study showed that it became a common phenomenon in the Netherlands as well. Aim: The aim of this research was to get to the prevalence figures of the use of those products among women from the main immigrated population groups in the Netherlands, i.e. the Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Indonesian, Antillean, Ghanese and Somali populations. Besides, it was striving to get to the determinants of the use of these products, as well as to the possible side-effects provoked by a long-term use of some of their major components. Methods: For fulfilling this triple goal researchers made use of the data from a previous survey on the Migrant health behaviour in the Netherlands (2001), of which scope was a representative sample of 1400 respondents from the four main represented ethnic groups in the Netherlands. Besides, a more focused questionnaire was submitted to both users and non-users of all groups in order to find out about the social factors influencing the use of skin-lightening products as well as to get to know more about possible diseases caused by those agents. Respondents were approached via local organizations in a systematic, snow-ball method . The approach adopted for the data-analysis was a case-control analysis. Cases and controls were matched on age and ethnicity, and the determinants of use were estimated with a logistic regression analysis. Results:This brought results in terms of a "model-user" whose social and cultural profile was most likely to be matched with the characteristic of using skin-lightening products. Conclusions could also be drawn as to the kinds of products used in the Netherlands, their availability on legal and illegal markets and as to the most common diseases affecting the users of those products. Prevalence figures could also beestimated for all populations. This research helped digging up the evidence of a real health issue of which importance has been underestimated in the past years. (aut. ref.)