- Posted by jdavis on August 31, 2011
The main way to avoid skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. A sunburn or tan is actually the result of cell damage caused by the sun. Here are several suggestions to avoid the sun’s UV rays:
- Stay indoors or avoid unnecessary sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest. When you are outside, remember that the shorter your shadow, the more damaging the sun’s rays.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, depending on your skin type. SPF measures a sunscreen’s protection against UVB rays only, so look for sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply a sunscreen as part of your daily routine. Do so generously for maximum protection, especially on body parts easily overlooked (i.e., lips, tops of ears, head, back of neck and hands, and feet). Some moisturizers and foundation include sunscreen.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun.
- If you are perspiring or in the water, you must reapply sunscreen more often regardless of the instructions on the packaging.
- Wear protective clothing (e.g., wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants, sunglasses with UV protection).
- Stay in the shade, and avoid reflective surfaces such as water, sand, snow, and concrete. You can burn from indirect exposure to the sun.
- Beware of cloudy days. You can still get burned.
- Don’t use sunlamps or tanning beds. There is no such thing as a safe tan.
- Conduct periodic skin self-examinations.
- Report suspicious moles to a physician
- Visit a dermatologist at least annually if you have a:
– History of intense sun exposure
– Family history of melanoma
– Large number of pigmented moles
You can cut your risk of being diagnosed or dying from skin cancer:
90% – by limiting your time in the sun. Be particularly cautious of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is most intense. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
75% – by cutting fat consumption. In a two-year study of 115 people previously treated for skin cancer, those who cut fat to 20% of calories or less reduced their risk of further pre-cancerous skin growths by 75%.
34% – if you check your skin for new moles and changes in existing ones every 90 days. Suspicious growths can be pre-cancerous or cancerous. The earlier they are treated the better. Also, have your doctor check your skin annually.
Monthly self-examination improves your chances of finding a skin cancer early, when it has done a minimum of damage to your skin and can be treated easily. Regular self-exam helps you recognize any new or changing features.
- The best time to do a self-exam is right after a shower or bath.
- Do the self-exam in a well-lighted room; use a full-length mirror and a handheld mirror.
- Learn where your moles, birthmarks, and blemishes are, and what they look like.
- Each time you do a self-exam, check these areas for changes in size, texture, and color, and for ulceration. If you notice any changes, call your primary-care provider or dermatologist.
- Check all areas of your body, including “hard-to-reach” areas. Ask a loved one to help you if there are areas you can’t see.
- Look in the full-length mirror at your front and your back (use the handheld mirror to do this). Raise your arms and look at your left and right sides.
- Bend your elbows and look carefully at your palms, your forearms (front and back), and upper arms.
- Examine the backs and fronts of your legs. Look at your buttocks (including the area between the buttocks) and your genitals (use the handheld mirror to make sure you see all skin areas).
- Sit down and examine your feet carefully, including the soles and between the toes.
- Look at your scalp, face, and neck. You may use a comb or blow dryer to move your hair while examining your scalp.
- Any pigmented growth that changes in size, shape, color or sensitivity needs to be examined and possibly biopsied by a physician.
Remember the ABCDE method of skin cancer self-examination:
- Asymmetry Different on one side than the other
- Border Jagged edges
- Color Changes in color or more than one color
- Diameter Larger than the tip of a pencil eraser
- Evolution Any change such as:
Could Fish in Your Diet Make a Difference?
Omega 3 oils in fish have long been associated with health benefits and it now appears that these essential fatty acids can protect the skin against skin cancer.
Sun burn is a major factor in the development of skin cancer. Fair skinned people are particularly susceptible and sun burn increases the chances of developing skin cancer at a later date.
Research consisted of a group of 42 healthy people being given a fish oil supplement that would be the equivalent of three portions of oily fish a week. After one month, they were less likely to burn and after three months, their resistance had risen to 33% less likely. A group of people who suffered from sun allergy doubled their defense after 6 months. These groups were measured against a third group who had been given olive oil which had no effect.
The protection derived from the change in diet would be equivalent to a permanent mild sun screen but would not protect against fierce sun.
Increasing oily fish in your diet is easy – even canned fish (apart from tuna) retains the omega 3s, so salmon, mackerel, sardines and the like can all be used straight from the can.