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
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Makes sense. We should be coming into some sunny days right now. (Unless you live in Chicago as I do where we still have March temps).
In order to get through the coming sunny days herewith a list of links of all the items I have filed on skin cancer and sunburn since the blog began in 2010. This includes my own bout with skin cancer in 2012.
Looking at your face in the mirror, things that change in size, shape or color can be skin cancer.
Remember the words my dermatologist told me, “There’s no such thing as a healthy tan.”
Myths and facts about sunburn and sunscreen
Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard
How to protect yourself from sunburn and skin cancer
Do I have skin cancer?
What did I learn after being diagnosed with skin cancer?
What happened during my skin cancer surgery?
What about exercise after surgery?
Important facts about skin cancer?
What to do about extreme heat
Around 20 years ago a friend of mine was getting married and, as I was standing up, I thought it would be cool to have a tan. At the time, I was heavily into Abba music so I had no problem lying in the tanning bed listening to Abba while I tanned. Long story short, I sport a tan for the wedding and 15 years later had an operation ( my first of three) for skin cancer. I wasn’t addicted. Actually, this was my only ‘booth’ experience. Apparently, other folks aren’t so cool about tanning booths.
Despite the known dangers of exposure to ultraviolet light, many people continue to sunbathe and use indoor tanning beds with some users exhibiting a dependence to tanning. A new study from the Yale School of Public Health finds that such dependence is also associated with other addictive behaviors.
The study, recently published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, surveyed 499 people who had previously sunbathed or used a tanning bed, and revealed that those who exhibited tanning dependence, also referred to as tanning addiction, were six times as likely to also be dependent on alcohol and three times as likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). (my emphasis)
Having suffered three skin cancers, I feel strongly about anything that might help. Here are some wise words that go far beyond SPF 30 or higher broad spectrum sunblock.
To read further on summer heat and sun problems check out my two Pages:
What to do about extreme heat
Skin cancer facts in general and my three skin cancer surgeries in particular
STAYING HEALTHY WITH AYURVEDA
By this point, everyone knows that the sun can cause severe damage to the skin. Our skin is the largest organ in our body, one of the main organs of purification. It acts as an insulator, regulates body temperature, and protects us from the harmful radiations of the sun. During the long days of summer, when exposure to the sun is at its peak, the risk of damage to our skin increases multifold.
Over-exposure to sun can allow extreme ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate through the layers of our skin, harming the DNA of our cells. From the perspective of Ayurveda, the intensity of the sun’s heat during the summer also aggravates Pitta dosha.
According to Ayurveda, most skin problems are associated with an imbalance of Pitta dosha, which governs metabolism, heat and digestion. Pitta has five subdivisions or “subdoshas”, and one of them, Bhranjaka Pitta, resides in the skin. Its…
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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.
Consider this a ‘don’t let this happen to you’ post. As a skin cancer sufferer, I wanted to share this information with you.
I have had three basal cell carcinomas surgically removed in the past few years. You can read the details on my Page Skin Cancer Facts and My Three Skin Cancer Surgeries in Particular. My dermatologist told me, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.”
Jessica Alba’s Honest Company which prides itself on selling healthy organic products seems to have really dropped the ball with its Sunscreen product.
Time reported, “Users of Jessica Alba’s Honest Company Sunscreen Are Posting Photos of Epic Sunburns”
“In a statement to the Today Show, the Honest Company stressed that the sunscreen is tested by an independent third party with positive results and that “the number of complaints received on our own website about our Sunscreen Lotion constitute less than one half of one percent of all units actually sold at Honest.com. We stand behind the safety and efficacy of this product.”
This statement seems strange to me in view of the fact that users commenting on Amazon go back all the way to April and the company continues to stand by their product.
Out of 189 customer reviews on Amazon, more than 140 were negative.
Here are a couple of the Amazon comments:
WARNING! Do Not Use! Increases Sunburns!
By Adam Watson on May 13, 2015
Sunburn Accelerant! I feel like filing a lawsuit against Honest. You don’t mess around with something this important. We applied this before going to the beach and reapplied at the beach after swimming. We all got burned, especially my daughter. I feel like a bad parent. I had a bottle of Neutrogena sunscreen spray but forgot to take it. The Honest sunscreen seemed to make my daughter burn even more than if she had no sunscreen at all. Continue reading
After posting the very informative infographic on skin cancer detection yesterday, I have run across this new one today and wanted to share it with you. This one has more to do with protecting yourself from skin cancer rather than recognizing its signs.
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.
Remember, Broad Spectrum sun block is what you need.
As a skin cancer sufferer I really should apologize for running this infographic so late in the month dedicated to Skin Cancer Awareness.
I have had three basal cell carcinomas surgically removed in the past few years. You can read the details on my Page Skin Cancer Facts and My Three Skin Cancer Surgeries in Particular.
I love this. It is a perfect reminder that no matter how bad we might mess up, we can always get back on track. Our body is renewing itself every day. We just have to help it.
On the positive side, think – every day in every way I am getting better and better.
Actually, this isn’t really chapter two, but it is the second blog post on hiding and healing a facial scar. I wrote the first one in August of 2013. You can read the post How Emu Oil and Coconut Oil Hid a Facial Scar. I wrote it a year after the Mohs surgery I had in 2012 and showed the result.
Now comes chapter two. Back in September of 2014 I went under the knife again as I had managed to accumulate two basal cell carcinomas. The first was on the other side of my face, symmetry anyone? The second on my back. As occurred the first time, I had about 15 stitches on my face and a scar extending longer than an inch. You can see it on the illustration below. In the interest of brevity, I am not going to do the scar on my back. This way we are comparing apples to apples.
That was six months ago. As I did before, I applied emu oil and coconut oil to the scar as soon as the bandages came off. Additionally, this year I began wet shaving with a double edge razor rather than the electric I had used for the past decades. I mention that because once I was allowed to shave again (about two weeks after the operation), I found that I nicked myself on the scar several times. That probably didn’t help the healing process much. On the other hand, I would use aloe vera on my face after shaving along with the emu oil and coconut oil. So, perhaps I had extra regenerative work going on.
What is the result? You can see for yourself below. The first photo was taken as soon as the bandages came off, about a week after the surgery.
I had to keep the dressing on for over a week, so this is the first time I could see it after the operation in September 2014.
Below is the second photo which my girlfriend shot this afternoon.
By my reckoning, this is an impressive healing over the course of six months.
I am very impressed with this healing. Remember, I am not a kid. I turned 75 in January of this year. So, I don’t heal like a youngster.
I would be interested in hearing about any similar experience that you might have had.
The most interesting aspect of this infographic about healthier skin is that everything on it is just plain good for you. I don’t know a lot of people that combine nutrition and their skin.
I have had three operations to remove skin cancer from my body, but have never considered my diet as contributing to that. It was just sun exposure.
Maybe that’s a girl thing. I am an old guy, so understandably out of it, if that is the case. In any event, whether you have ever thought about what you were eating might or might not be good for your skin, trust me, everything on this post is good for you.
One September 11, a month ago, I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my face and another one removed from my back.The facial incision extends an inch and a half while the one on my back stretches to three inches. I have spent the past month recovering from those surgeries.
I was a good patient and did not ride my bike for the first two weeks after the operation. Actually, I was surprised that I did not even have the energy to take the bike out in that period. I was also taking a round of antibiotics to protect the two wounds.
I started riding again after two weeks, but on a very restricted basis. I rode less than 10 miles on each of my first two days compared with a usual of 20 miles a day.
For the first three weeks after the surgeries I napped from one to two hours a day in addition to a full night’s sleep. So, my body was clearly in recovery mode.
At this point, a month later, I feel that I am about 80 to 85 per cent recovered. I am able to ride 20 miles a day although it is in two sections of around 10 miles each. I no longer need to nap.
In the past month I have added about a pound to my body weight. I think my appetite was curtailed from the procedures, too. My resting heart rate remains in the low 40s.
In summary, I consider myself well along on the road to recovery. I went into the operations a healthy
74 year old man and I am now finding my way back. I hope these details about the operations and my recovery have been of some value to you. I was surprised at how much they took out of me.
In talking about my skin cancer experience, I have been amazed at how many people have direct experience with it. To read more on the subject, check out my page: Skin cancer facts in general and my three skin cancer surgeries in particular.
The most common mental disorders affecting cancer patients were anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders, according to the study. Adjustment disorders occur when a person cannot cope with a life crisis, and are unable to function on a daily basis or maintain relationships with those around them, Mehnert said.
Cooking with Kathy Man
One out of three people diagnosed with cancer also wind up struggling with a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression, a new study from Germany reports.
Many people seem to cope with the natural stress of a cancer diagnosis, but for about 32 percent of cancer patients, the diagnosis may prompt a full-blown psychological disorder, said study lead author Anja Mehnert, a professor of psychosocial oncology at the University of Leipzig in Germany.
That’s much higher than the 20 percent mental disorder rate of the general population, she said. It’s important to note that although the study strongly links cancer and a mental health disorders, it wasn’t designed to prove that having cancer directly caused any mental health disorders.
“[Our] findings reinforce that, as doctors, we need to be very aware of signs and symptoms of mental and emotional distress,” Mehnert said. “We must encourage patients to seek…
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