Tag Archives: sunscreen

Raise your skin cancer IQ

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.

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Does sunscreen compromise vitamin D levels?

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.

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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.

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Filed under exercise outdoors, regular bike riding, sunscreen, Vitamin D

What You Need to Know for May – National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

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.”

Blazing+Hot+Sun

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…

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4 ways to protect against skin cancer (other than sunscreen) – Harvard

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.

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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

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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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I Have a Second Skirmish With Skin Cancer

As regular readers know I contracted skin cancer two years ago this month. I have included the links to the posts I wrote at the time and inserted them in the final paragraph if you would want the details.

This year our local hospital Northwestern Memorial offered free skin cancer screenings, so my girlfriend and I went on June 18. We each learned that we had a couple of ‘bad’ spots that needed to be removed for a biopsy. My girlfriend got her biopsies done last month and both came back negative for cancer. I had to wait a couple of weeks because I was using a new dermatologist. I had my two trouble spots removed last week and I got the results yesterday. Not good. Each was a basal cell carcinoma – BCC. Skin cancer. Again.

Don't be fooled by this smiling face. His rays are deadly.

Don’t be fooled by this smiling face. His rays are deadly.

As I wrote last year, “The Skin Cancer Foundation says that BCCs are abnormal uncontrolled growths that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of our skin. Usually caused by a combination of UltraViolet exposure. The good (?) news is that they rarely spread.

“There are an estimated 2.8 million cases of BCC diagnosed in the U.S. each year. In fact, it is the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs. It shouldn’t be taken lightly ….”

For the record, after my surgery of August 2012, I practiced ‘safe sun’ with the zeal of a reformed whore. I bought several sunblocks, always the ‘broad spectrum’ variety that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Often when riding my bike I would wear a white long sleeved shirt to protect my arms from the rays. So, I was disappointed to learn that the spot on my face and the one on my back are both cancerous. I guess, on the positive side, I did not have more of them. I would like to think that my efforts to avoid skin cancer had some good effects. Also, each one is about half the size of the tumor I had removed two years ago.

I have booked my Mohs surgery for next month. On September 10 I will go back under the knife.

Here’s what the Skin Cancer Foundation says about Mohs Surgery: “What is Mohs surgery? It is the excision of a cancer from the skin, followed by the detailed mapping and complete microscopic examination of the cancerous tissue and the margins surrounding it. If the margins are indeed cancer-free, the surgery is ended. If not, more tissue is removed, and this procedure is repeated until the margins of the final tissue examined are clear of cancer.”

This is what happens in Mohs surgery. They take more than a layer.

This is what happens in Mohs surgery. They take more than a layer.

The cure rate of the Mohs technique is 99 percent, considerably higher than other methods.”

Here are the links for my first cancer posts: Do I Have Skin Cancer? What Did I Learn After Being Diagnosed with Skin Cancer? What Happened During My Skin Cancer Surgery?

Following are further posts on the subject for you: Important Facts About Skin Cancer, What You Need for May – Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Tony

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Filed under cancer, Mohs surgery, skin cancer

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