Category Archives: sunburn

Myths and Facts about Sunburn and Sunscreen

There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. So says Dr. Neda Ashourian of the Northwestern Skin Cancer Institute, Ltd. Speaking before the hospital’s Healthy Transitions group, Dr. Ashourian said that the best you can get is water-resistant sunscreen. So reapply when you come out of the water.


On that subject she said that when buying sunscreen to get SPF 30 or greater. It is critical to look for the terms Broad Spectrum on the container. If those words aren’t present, the sunscreen, no matter how high the SPF rating, may not protect you from the damaging Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays of the sun.

Some other dangers from sun included – windows. The UVA rays can penetrate windows, but not the Ultraviolet B (UVB).

You can get sunburn on a cloudy day because 80 percent of the sun’s rays penetrate clouds and fog.

At the beach sand reflects ultraviolet rays so you have to be doubly careful there and be certain that you have fresh sunscreen on. You need to reapply sunscreen after two hours because it wears off.

Finally, the end of summer is not the end of danger from ultraviolet light. Snow reflects UV light so you need to protect your face when skiing or engaging in other outdoor activities.

I have written about sunburn several times in the past couple of weeks and I want to reiterate probably the most important concept I have learned, namely there is no such thing as a healthy tan. I am disturbed to realize that as I have always prided myself on the nice tan that I got out riding in the sun. But, a “nice tan” is the siren song of skin cancer. Pay her no heed.

On a related subject, please check out my Page – How to Deal With Extreme Heat.

Tony

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Three Weeks After Skin Cancer Surgery

I went back to the doctor this week to have the stitches removed from my back. That pretty much brought my third surgery to closure (pun intended).

To summarize, this go ’round with skin cancer was much stronger than my previous one, two years ago. In each instance I had a basal cell carcinoma removed. Two years ago, I had one growth cut out and ended up with about 15 stitches in my cheek. This time I had one removed from my cheek and another from my back. I had 15 stitches in my cheek again, but more than double that in my back. The facial scar is about 1.5 inches long while the one on my back extends to three inches. So, there was more cutting this time and as a result my body had a lot more healing to do.

Blazing+Hot+Sun

Two years ago I was riding my bike within five days of the surgery. In contrast, this year, I did not have the energy to ride for two full weeks. Then, when I returned to riding, I felt a lack of power in my legs which tired easily.

This year, I napped nearly every day for the first two weeks. Good naps that extended an hour and sometimes two. Clearly my body craved downtime.

In my third week, I have commenced riding again, but can feel limited by my condition. I am taking it slow. I rode around seven miles the first day and went up to 10 on the second. At the end of the third week I managed 20 miles today, but it was in two rides. I don’t think I could have done it in one bite. The good news is that I didn’t feel the urge to nap today. Last, but not least, I added one and a half pounds in the past three weeks with my sedentary recovery. I have no worries about burning that off going forward.

I feel that my life is coming back into its own now in terms of energy, if on a slow pace.

Since my first surgery I have been amazed at how many people I know have suffered from skin cancer in one form or another. If you would like to learn more about this important subject, I just put together a Page recounting my surgeries as well as general facts about it. Check out Skin Cancer Facts in General and My Three Skin Cancer Surgeries in Particular.

Remember, as my dermatologist said, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.”

Tony

 

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Filed under skin cancer, Skin cancer surgery, sunburn, sunlight

Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard

Earlier this week I wrote about Vitamin D affecting waist reduction in a study. It is complicated to work out all the factors that affect our Vitamin D level yet this is a very valuable vitamin in our arsenal of good health.

The greatest natural source of Vitamin D

The greatest natural source of Vitamin D


Harvard Healthbeat
says, “The process by which the body makes vitamin D is complex. It starts when the skin absorbs rays in the invisible ultraviolet B (UVB) part of the light spectrum. The liver and the kidneys also participate to make a form of the vitamin that the body can use.
“A number of factors influence a person’s vitamin D levels.

Here are six important ones.
1.
Where you live. The farther away from the Equator you live, the less vitamin D–producing UVB light reaches the earth’s surface during the winter. Residents of Boston, for example, make little if any of the vitamin from November through February. Short days and clothing that covers legs and arms also limit UVB exposure.

2.
Air quality. Carbon particles in the air from the burning of fossil fuels, wood, and other materials scatter and absorb UVB rays, diminishing vitamin D production. In contrast, ozone absorbs UVB radiation, so pollution-caused holes in the ozone layer could end up enhancing vitamin D levels. For those of us who life In the U.S. just being out in the sun is not sufficient to get adequate Vitamin D during the winter because of the sun’s acute angle to the earth.

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Filed under aging, biking, cancer, cold weather, Exercise, men's health, sunburn, Vitamin D, vitamins, Weight

What Happened During My Skin Cancer Surgery

Today marked the climax of the double-whammy that hit the blog this month with John’s near heart attack and my coming down with skin cancer.

A month ago I had what I thought was a mole removed from my cheek and learned two days later than I had a basal cell carcinoma living on my face. Today I went in for Mohs surgery to make sure that I was cancer-free.

For the past month while I have dutifully applied sunblock whenever I rode my bike, I didn’t give my upcoming surgery a lot of thought. From what I had read about Mohs surgery, it seemed like I would get the equivalent of a rug burn on my face. This morning, however, the prospect of a surgeon cutting into my face became real.

I was due at the hospital at 8:00 AM. That meant I had to get poochie walked before 7:00 AM because it takes me about 20 minutes to hike to Northwestern Memorial Hospital from where I live. The whole idea of being operated on hit me as I was fixing breakfast and I found myself unable to finish my morning smoothie. My dog sensed my anxiety and she was looking at me intensely the whole time we were together. After her walk I gave her some treats and a hug before leaving for the hospital. I had packed a messenger bag with a book, my iPad and a couple of healthy snacks.

The procedure was done by a team of really nice looking people. Who knew folks in dermatology looked so good? There were at least five at one time or another. The doctor started by holding a mirror up for me to point out the exact spot where the bulk of my tumor had been removed.

Here is the pressure bandage I will be wearing for the next 48 hours

They administered a shot or two of lidocaine to freeze up my cheek and started cutting. I felt no pain but was not able to see much as there was a cloth covering my eyes. I guess they were working for several minutes. I have no sense of the time involved as the entire morning ended up being a long blur. Afterwards, they applied a pressure bandage to slow bleeding and led me to a lounge where I would wait 30 to 40 minutes for the results and to find out if I could go home or they had to cut again and remove more.

The lounge was pleasant with coffee and small snacks, some healthy, some not. I enjoyed a cup of decaf coffee. I had packed a messenger bag with a book from the positive psychology class I just took as well as my iPad, so I was all set.
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Myths and Facts about Sunburn and Sunscreen

At the risk of sounding like a reformed whore, now that I have succumbed to skin cancer, I am being extremely careful about protecting myself from the sun’s rays as well as everyone I meet who has a ‘nice tan.’ I may have become obnoxious in my zeal.  I was especially interested in the talk on skin cancer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Healthy Transitions Program® this week. Here are some tips I picked up there.

There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. So says Dr. Neda Ashourian of the Northwestern Skin Cancer Institute, Ltd. Speaking before the hospital’s Healthy Transitions group, Dr. Ashourian said that the best you can get is water-resistant sunscreen. So reapply when you come out of the water.


On that subject she said that when buying sunscreen to get SPF 30 or greater. It is critical to look for the terms Broad Spectrum on the container. If those words aren’t present, the sunscreen, no matter how high the SPF rating, may not protect you from the damaging Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays of the sun.

Some other dangers from sun included – windows. The UVA rays can penetrate windows, but not the Ultraviolet B (UVB).

You can get sunburn on a cloudy day because 80 percent of the sun’s rays penetrate clouds and fog.

At the beach sand reflects ultraviolet rays so you have to be doubly careful there and be certain that you have fresh sunscreen on. You need to reapply sunscreen after two hours because it wears off.

Finally, the end of summer is not the end of danger from ultraviolet light. Snow reflects UV light so you need to protect your face when skiing or engaging in other outdoor activities.

I have written about sunburn several times in the past couple of weeks and I want to reiterate probably the most important concept I have learned,  namely there is no such thing as a healthy tan. I am disturbed to realize that as I have always prided myself on the nice tan that I got out riding in the sun. But, a “nice tan” is the siren song of skin cancer. Pay her no heed.

On a related subject, please check out my Page – How to Deal With Extreme Heat.

Tony

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Filed under skin cancer, sun screen, sunburn

What Did I Learn After Being Diagnosed With Skin Cancer

The obvious answer is I learned that my body had become a host to a horrible disease. It is just short of a week since the ‘something’ I had removed from my face turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma – skin cancer. This is an unnerving event for anyone. But, I think it was more so for me.

As regular readers know, in the two plus years since we started the blog, I have enjoyed just stunning good health. I dropped 15 pounds that I hadn’t even realized I was carrying as excess weight. I went from 165 down to 150 pounds. I now wear size 30 waist jeans, a size I haven’t worn since high school. My body fat measures below 17 percent. My resting heart rate is under 50 beats per minute vs the high end of a normal of 60 to 80 for someone my age. In short, riding my bike nearly daily here in Chicago and paying attention to what I eat has paid off in spades. I have grown to expect that I am in near perfect condition. So the skin cancer news was doubly disturbing for me.

I got a sun hat to protect my dog, but neglected to use sunblock myself. You can see the lump on my left cheek that turned out to be skin cancer.

The first night I made it to around 2:30 a.m. then got up and wrote a blog post about it to quiet the turmoil in my mind. I had little energy the rest of the day and managed only 21 miles on the bike. Went to bed early that night but got a good night’s sleep. I think that writing the blog post on the previous day freed my mind up somewhat and I woke up rarin’ to go with loads of energy. Walked the dog, put on my sunblock and had a 30 mile bike ride that morning. The only reason I quit was because I was worried that the sunblock had worn off and I hadn’t applied more. I had loads of energy left.

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How to Protect Yourself from Sunburn and Skin Cancer

Here are some basic facts from skincancer.org:

• Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.
• Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
• One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
• Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.

I had a procedure done by the Dermatology Department of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Along with the info on how to care for my ‘wound,’ they included some powerful suggestions on how to protect yourself from skin cancer. I wanted to share it with you as it seems to be very thorough and helpful. Maybe it will help you to avoid the situation I found myself in – needing skin cancer surgery. I certainly learned some useful facts from it.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation that can damage your skin. Ultraviolet A (UVA) is responsible for tanning, wrinkling and premature aging. Ultraviolet B (UVB) causes sunburns. Both UVA and UVB can damage the skin and cause skin cancer. There is no “safe” ultraviolet radiation. There is no such thing as a ‘healthy’ tan. (Emphasis mine)
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