As summer has actually started both on the calendar and here in the Midwest, I thought it worthwhile to share this with you.
Cover up. My dermatologist says, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.”
If you want to read further on it, you can check out my Page – Skin Cancer Facts in General and My Three Skin Cancer Surgeries in Particular.
Regular readers know of my dealings in the skin cancer arena. Three appearances, three defeats, three basal cell carcinoma surgeries. If you want further details, you can find them here. I wanted to pass along this information to maybe save you from ill-considered do-it-yourself sunscreens. Skin cancer is serious stuff. Don’t risk it.
Social media and other online tools have changed the way people seek and share health information. Recent consumer interest in natural, organic, and ethically-made personal care products has led to an increase of shared recipes for homemade products including sunscreen. A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Brooks College of Health at University of North Florida examined how homemade sunscreens were portrayed on Pinterest.
The study, published in Health Communication, found that nearly all (95%) pins, or bookmarks, for homemade sunscreen positively portrayed the effectiveness of homemade sunscreens and most (68%) recommended recipes for homemade sunscreens that offered insufficient UV radiation protection. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) claims were made in a third of pins with a range of SPF 2 to SPF 50. This is concerning because the ingredients recommended in homemade sunscreen pins offer minimal scientifically proven broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation yet are widely shared and promoted as safe alternatives to commercial sunscreens on Pinterest. The average number of saves for a pin was 808, with one pin being saved more than 21,700 times.
I am somewhat paranoid about my bike riding in the sun as I have had three skin cancer operations. Foolishly, because I am Italian and tan don’t burn, I never felt the need for sunscreen. Not one of my best decisions. As my dermatologist said, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.” I now lather up big time before riding in the sun.
Here is the sun rising over Lake Michigan on a morning ride.
Sunscreen can reduce the sun’s adverse effects, but there are concerns that it might inhibit the body’s production of vitamin D. In a new British Journal of Dermatology study, however, investigators recorded an increase of vitamin D in participants during a week of cloudless weather, with very high UV index, even when sunscreens were used properly and prevented sunburn.
Sunlight contains UVA and UVB radiation, and the latter is essential for vitamin D synthesis. Two sunscreens with the same SPF were compared. Sunscreen with a high UVA protection factor enabled significantly higher vitamin D synthesis than a low UVA protection factor sunscreen, likely because it allows more UVB transmission.
The findings indicate that the benefits of sunscreen use can be obtained without compromising vitamin D levels.
“Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D. Sunscreens can prevent sunburn and skin cancer, but there has been a lot of uncertainty about the effects of sunscreens on vitamin D,” said lead author Prof. Antony Young, of King’s College London. “Our study, during a week of perfect weather in Tenerife, showed that sunscreens, even when used optimally to prevent sunburn, allowed excellent vitamin D synthesis.”
You can read more about skin cancer in general and my three skin cancers here.
As a long time sufferer from skin cancer (I have had three basal cell carcinomas removed surgically), I would like to help you to protect yourself this summer. I offered a number of suggestions on May first as this is Skin Cancer Awareness month. Herewith Emily S. Ruiz, MD, MPH writing in the Harvard Health Blog.
It’s almost May and here in the Northeast, front-of-the-pharmacy aisles are filled with myriad brands and types of sunscreen. While sunscreen is essential to lowering your risk for skin cancer, there are other simple, over-the-counter options you can incorporate into your summer skin protection routine.
I shot this on an early morning bike ride as the sun was coming up over Lake Michigan.
Nicotinamide may help prevent certain skin cancers
Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that has been shown to reduce the number of skin cancers. In a randomized controlled trial performed in Australia (published in the New England Journal of Medicine), the risks of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma were significantly reduced — by 23%. Nicotinamide has protective effects against ultraviolet damage caused by sun exposure. The vitamin is safe and can be purchased over the counter. We recommended starting the vitamin (500 mg twice a day) to all our patients with a history of a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, or with extensive skin damage due to sun exposure. One caveat is that the vitamin must be taken continuously, as the benefits are lost once stopped. Continue reading