How to prevent skin cancer

  • Love Your Linens

If you’re lucky enough to hop into a boat this summer, instead of donning that gorgeous bikini, think about covering your gorgeous skin.  Wear protective clothing that is lightweight, loose-fitting, and tightly woven.  Organic linens and cottons in light shades can feel wonderful against your skin even in extreme heat.  Add to the ensemble sun glasses with medium to dark lenses and a wide-brimmed hat and you’re good to go!

Note: Be aware that the sun’s rays can reach you even through clothing.  So, if you must be outdoors for extended periods of time, apply sunscreen before getting dressed.

  • Timing Is Everything

The sun’s rays are at their most potent between the hours of 11am and 4pm.  If you can, plan your activities around these times or minimize your time spent outdoors during these peak hours.  If you must be out during these hours, seek shade under an oak tree or big umbrella, and most important, apply sunscreen.

According to M. Sara Rosenthal, Ph.D., in her book, Stopping Cancer at the Source, “many of us don’t even understand sunscreen or how to apply it properly.  And sunscreen is crucial.  In fact, some have estimated that if sunscreen is used regularly in the first eighteen years of life, the lifetime risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer would be reduced by an impressive 78 percent.”  That said, it is never too late to become sunscreen savvy and put your newfound savvy knowledge to practice.  First, purchase a sunscreen that is natural and free of chemicals.  Seek out the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  These ingredients protect against UVA and UVB rays without harmful side effects.  Look for “broad spectrum” on the label which means the sunscreen offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays and contains an SPF of at least 15.  Apply your screen 20 minutes before going out and reapply approximately every 2 hours.  If you are swimming, sweating, or showering, of course reapply again.  And make sure if you’re wearing little covering, such as a bikini at the beach, enlist a friend to help you cover those hard-to-reach places.

  • Check It Out

One of the smartest preventative measures you can take is to get regular checkups.  This is crucial as most skin cancers are curable if discovered in the early stages.  Knowing your skin, so that you notice any changes is essential.  Seek medical attention if you note any of the following: birthmarks or moles which change color, size, or shape; new growths on the skin, patches of skin that swell, itch, bleed, ooze, or become red and bumpy; sores that do not heal.

  • Eat For Longevity

Now for the good stuff!  There are plenty of preventative measures we can take in the comfort of our own homes all year round to prevent cancerous cells from forming.  First off, the proper diet can do us a world of good, and can even enable our bodies to stave off the dreaded c word altogether.  Eat a high fiber diet with adequate amounts of organic fruits and vegetables.  These foods are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and invaluable phytonutrients which are believed to have anticancer properties.  Foods that are loaded with antioxidants are also necessary because they have anti-inflammatory properties and inflammation has been linked to squamous cell carcinoma.  Foods which contain vitamin C and beta carotene, such as carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, apples, nuts and seeds, and olive oil all have anti-inflammatory effects.  A potent antioxidant found in grapes and berries called resveratrol can keep skin cancer cells from proliferating.  Add smoothies to your morning routine and pack them with organic yogurt, berries and flaxseed.  Whole grains are also necessary elements in the anticancer diet.  They too are loaded with antioxidants among other nutrients including lignas, phenolic acid, and other phytochemicals.  Include organic quinoa, couscous, millet, barley, and rye in your diet.  Beneficial beans have complex carbohydrates and vitamins.  They are also non-animal sources of protein and contain fiber just as whole grains do.  When possible, avoid sugar and saturated, hydrogenated, and partially hydrogenated fats and oils as these substances foster a toxic internal environment.  Steer clear of processed food, fast food, and foods with additives or artificial ingredients.  According to Ayurvedic medicine, even avoiding leftovers can help fight the battle against all kinds of cancers because older foods lose their life force and vitality and become more difficult to digest.

  • Nutritional and Herbal Supplements

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that neutralizes several of the most damaging free radicals and also reactivates other antioxidants.  An added plus to alpha-lipoic acid is that is both lipid- and water-soluble, which means that it can go nearly anywhere in the body.  This is a characteristic to other antioxidants.  Flaxseed and Fish Oils are essential oils necessary in maintaining healthy skin.  Vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants that promotes healing by boosting the immune system.  It also helps produce collagen, a key skin component.  Any good antioxidant combination formula that supplies 200 micrograms of selenium daily is beneficial because again, antioxidants help protect against potentially cancerous causing free radicals.  Pine bark and grapeseed extracts are also examples of good antioxidants.  Coenzyme Q 10 is a powerful antioxidant which is hoped to have some success in fighting cancerous activity.

Red Clover is an effective blood cleanser.  In order for tumors to grow, they need a blood supply, so they send out chemical messages that induce the body to grow new blood vessels into and around them, a process referred to as antiogenesis.  Red clover contains genistein which is believed to have an antiangiogenic effect.  Taking milk thistle on a daily basis is another good idea as it an amazing detoxifying agent and gives the liver, our detoxifying organ much support.  Research had shown that cat’s claw can kill cancerous cells without doing damage to normal ones.

  • Spice Things Up

There is also a magical herb believed by the long tradition of Ayurvedic medicine to have a number of anti-cancer properties.  Turmeric soothes the cells, stimulates the proper enzymes, and protects the intelligence of the cell’s DNA.  Indian households have been cooking with this healing spice for over 5,000 years, adding it to their veggies, lentils, and legumes.  Westerners have proven its health benefits by pointing to its star ingredient curcumin, which abounds with cure-all properties.  Because turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, it has the ability to eat away free radicals.  It also stimulates glutathione S-transferase, a cancer protecting, detoxifying enzyme.  When applied as a topical application, turmeric can inhibit skin tumor promotion.  Like  other antioxidants, tumeric has anti-inflammatory properties which help block the growth of cancerous cells as well.  So, don’t hesitate to start cooking up those curries this summer, and always.

  • Sip Your Green

Long regarded by ancient cultures as a powerful proponent in fostering good health, green tea is presently being considered a possible cancer preventative and even an aspect of cancer treatment.  This is so due to its many amazing healing properties.  Green tea is rich in flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-allergen activity.  It also combats free radical damage to protect against degenerative disease and boosts enzyme production in the body.  Its properties also include antiviral, antibacterial, and antibiotic properties.  National Cancer Institute studies are investigating the protective effects of a pill form of green tea against sun-induced skin damage.  Another study is investigating the topical application of green tea in shrinking precancerous skin changes.

It’s never too late to start protecting your precious skin.  Always use a good sunscreen regularly, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security.  And don’t count on a suntan or a naturally dark skin tone to protect you.  It is true, that light colored skin burns more easily and lighter skinned individuals are more prone to developing skin cancer, all shades of skin are subject to sun damage.  Moreover, sun damage is cumulative.  While you may not see its effects immediately, they may show up at some later date in the form of skin cancer.  That said, take advantage of those summer festivals in the sun and be good to your skin.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris in Kansas
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 16:43:44

    Lots of great information! Thank you for sharing this.


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