Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer And Reduce Your Risk
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the United States, with 1 million people being diagnosed annually. Melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer, but fortunately, its also the rarest. In the majority of cases, skin cancer is not life-threatening. Early diagnosis is key, especially in regard to melanoma. If detected early, it has a high survival rate. Here are 10 ways you can prevent skin cancer and reduce your risk.
Reducing The Risk Of Skin Cancer
Most skin cancers are at least partially caused by UV exposure, so reducing exposure reduces skin cancer risk. However, one out of every three U.S. adults has been sunburned in the past year, and most do not take recommended actions to protect themselves from the sun., In addition, indoor tanning rates are high among some groups, such as young, non-Hispanic white females, and skin cancer incidence rates are increasing. These facts show a need to take action to improve sun protection behaviors and address the harms of indoor tanning.
Supplements That May Help
Though in most instances nutritionists prefer you get your nutrients from foods rather than supplements, two antioxidant supplements have recently produced impressive evidence as skin cancer fighters.
Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3. Several studies by Diona Damian, MD, and colleagues in Australia have catapulted nicotinamide into the public consciousness, sparking a run on vitamin supplement shelves. Her studies have revealed that nicotinamide reduces the rate of new skin precancers, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas by 23 percent in patients with a history of these lesions. She has also done early research suggesting that nicotinamide may provide similar benefits to melanoma patients.
When UV damages the skin, DNA repair enzymes in the skin launch into repairing the damage, but never succeed in fixing all of it. The remaining damage can lead to skin aging and skin cancers. However, both oral and topical nicotinamide replenish energy supplies in the skin that get depleted by these repairs. In this way, they bolster the immune systems ability to fix the damage. Also, UV radiation itself suppresses the immune system, and nicotinamide reduces this suppression.
While the research has only used supplements, nicotinamide is also naturally present in small quantities in yeast, lean meats, fish, nuts and legumes.
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Get An Annual Checkup
One good way of staying ahead of changes to your skin is seeing a dermatologist regularly. ;It can be hard to know what to look for if you lack the training. For instance, what may seem like an atypical mole to the average person may be an early sign of melanoma. Make annual appointments to catch changes to your skin early.
Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Although alcohol is not a classic over-the-counter product, it has been in the spotlight in the past year, as alcohol is estimated to be responsible for 3.5% of all cancer deaths. Two meta-analyses suggested an association between skin cancer and alcohol intake. One study found that the risk of basal cell carcinoma increased by 7% and squamous cell carcinoma by 11% for every standard beer or small glass of wine each day. Another study showed a 20% increase in melanoma in drinkers, and the risk increased with the number of drinks. However, these studies didnt take into account other factors that could affect the results, some of which cannot be measured. One example is that ultraviolet light is the main factor that increases basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and alcohol consumption has been associated with behaviors that increase ones risk of getting a sunburn. So what is the recommendation? The American Cancer Society recommends limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
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What To Look For
Its important to remember the ABCDE rule for skin cancer when doing a self-exam. Consider the following signs of skin cancer:
- AsymmetryA spot or mole;on your skin with an unusual shape, or two parts that dont look the same
- BorderA jagged or uneven border
- ColorAn uneven color
- DiameterA mole or spot that is larger than a pea
- EvolvingA mole or spot that has changed within the past couple of weeks or months
Sun Protection Policies And Legislation
Many schools have policies that limit students’ ability to use sun protection, such as dress codes that prohibit the use of hats or sunglasses or policies about over-the-counter drugs that prohibit the use of sunscreen. Only a few states, such as California and New York, have passed legislation requiring that schools allow students to use sun-protective clothing or sunscreen on campus., The California School Boards Association recommends that individual school districts adopt specific sun protection policies for students., In addition, lifeguards in California who get skin cancer are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under certain conditions. California law also urges employers to identify and correct workplace hazards connected to UV radiation.
Local policies that address skin cancer prevention vary across the country, and their effects on the incidence of skin cancer or on intermediate outcomes, such as sun protection behaviors and sunburn, have not been formally evaluated or documented. However, such policies could be considered as one component of a larger, more comprehensive skin cancer prevention initiative within a community.
Education and Awareness
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There Are Several Types Of Skin Cancer
The most common types of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, which forms in the squamous cells and basal cell carcinoma, which forms in the basal cells. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are also called nonmelanoma skin cancers. Melanoma, which forms in the melanocytes, is a less common type of skin cancer that grows and spreads quickly.
Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most common in areas exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, hands, and arms.
Three Simple Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer This Summer
Its sunburn season, so before you head out to sunbathe, keep this in mind: Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
Since more than two people in the U.S. die of skin cancer every hour, its vital to do what we can to prevent this far-too-prevalent disease.
Its recommended that you do a head-to-toe self-exam of your skin every month. But while the statistics are scary, this monthly exam likely doesnt make it to the top of your long to-do list. Thats why Ive compiled three simple tips to help lower your chances of skin cancer.
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It Is Not Known If The Following Lower The Risk Of Melanoma:
It has not been proven that using sunscreen to prevent sunburn can protect against melanoma caused by UV radiation. Other risk factors such as having skin that burns easily, having a large number of benign moles, or having atypical nevi may also play a role in whether melanoma forms.
Counseling and protecting the skin from the sun
It is not known if people who receive counseling or information about avoiding sun exposure make changes in their behavior to protect their skin from the sun.
Live A Healthy Lifestyle
Keep your immune system functioning at full capacity by engaging in healthy lifestyle strategies, such as getting proper nutrition, moving regularly, getting enough sleep, and taking time for self-care.
Also, make sure you are getting adequate vitamin D, an essential nutrient for proper immunity. It only takes a few minutes of sun exposure to get your daily dose. Cover up after that.
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Finding The Best Sunscreen Products
Finding good sunscreen products will lead to the best ways to prevent skin cancer.; So you want to protect your skin?; Then, the best ways to prevent skin cancer is with the use of top-rated sunscreen products whenever you are outside.; Quality sunscreens help shield you from the suns dangerous ultraviolet rays in two ways.; First, some work by scattering the sunlight, i.e. reflecting it away from your body.; Others absorb the UV rays before they reach your skin.;
Best ways to prevent skin cancer is to wear clothing that blocks the suns rays from reaching your skin without being too hot.; Also, wearing a hat to protect your head will help as one of the best ways prevent skin cancer.; More importantly, staying indoors during the hottest part of the day is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer!
Federal Policies Legislation And Regulation
Many federal departments and agencies work on efforts related to skin cancer prevention and control, individually and together. Federal agencies also disseminate information about what works to prevent skin cancer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its agencies play important roles in skin cancer prevention at the federal level. These agencies include the National Cancer Institute in the National Institutes of Health , CDC, FDA, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. CDC supports Comprehensive Cancer Control Programs in states, tribes, and territories, many of which conduct activities related to skin cancer prevention. Federal entities outside HHS also address skin cancer prevention, including the Federal Trade Commission , EPA, the National Park Service, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration .
Federal legislation can help support skin cancer prevention and control efforts. For example, the Affordable Care Act includes a 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services and a requirement that nearly all health insurance plans cover USPSTF-recommended preventive services. Recommended services include behavioral counseling for children, adolescents, and young adults aged 10â24 years with fair skin on how to minimize their exposure to UV radiation to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
For more information on federal activities related to skin cancer prevention, see .
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Your Daily Sun Protection Guide
The sun sustains life and feels good, but it can be your skins worst enemy. While every sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer, its not just those big days at the beach or ballgame that cause trouble. Each time you run out to get the mail, walk the dog or commute to work without sun protection also adds to the damage that can lead to skin cancer .
No single method of sun defense can protect you perfectly, though. Thats why we created this roundup of advice for you. The best path to beautiful, healthy skin is to adopt as many of these steps as possible into your lifestyle, and make them daily habits everywhere you go, all year long.
What Can You Do To Catch Skin Cancer Early
Keep an eye out for changes in your skin: new or changing spots , or a spot that itches, bleeds, or wont heal. Make a habit of regularly checking your entire skin surface from head to toe, perhaps once a month. You dont have to memorize each spot, just get familiar with the types of spots you have so that youll spot an “ugly duckling” more easily. Once you get used to it, a thorough exam will take only a few minutes. To help guide your self-exam, check out the UM Rogel Cancer Centers Skin Cancer Screening Card: Be Smart About Your Skin, Know Your ABCDs and the UMSkinCheck App. Be sure to have anything you think is suspicious checked out by your dermatologist, and consider having an annual skin check completed by your dermatologist or primary physician.
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Burns And Scars That Dont Seem To Heal
Any burns, or scars, thatnever really seem to heal are normally termed as Marjolins ulcers. Thepresence of such wounds seems to increase the risk of cancer, as the wounditself could develop into squamous cell carcinoma.
How exactly this takesplace is not entirely known, but it still remains a very real risk factor.
In fact, other chronic skindiseases, such as psoriasis, which can cause long-lasting inflammations, alsoare thought to increase the risk of skin cancer. Again, the why is elusive,but it is something that bears consideration.
Sun Protection And Babies
It is important to ensure that babies are well protected from the sun. Childhood sun exposure contributes significantly to the lifetime risk of;skin cancer, and babies’ skin can burn easily.
Cancer Council recommends keeping babies away from direct sunlight as much as possible when UV levels are 3 or above. Plan daily activities to ensure the baby is well protected from the sun and aim to minimise time outside when UV levels are at their strongest.
When this is not possible, ensure that babies are protected from the sun by shade, protective clothing and a hat. Check the baby’s clothing, hat and shade positioning regularly to ensure they continue to be well protected from UV.
Cancer Council does not recommend the use of sunscreen on babies under six months old.
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State And Local Policies Legislation And Regulation
Intervention strategies that address social and contextual factors have the potential for broad public health impact by making the healthy choice the easy or default choice. Policies, legislation, and regulation are examples of such interventions, reaching wide segments of communities while requiring minimal individual effort compared with interventions directed at individuals.
Who Is At Risk Of Skin Cancer
People of all ages should protect their skin, but it is even more vital to protect children. Although skin cancer is rare in children, the amount of sun exposure during childhood is thought to increase the risk of developing skin cancer in adult life. Children who have had episodes of sunburn are more likely to develop skin cancers in later life. The skin of children is more delicate and more prone to damage. Therefore, take extra care with children. Babies can be exposed to the sun, but probably for less time than children.
If you have pale skin, red or fair hair, and freckles, you have the type of skin which burns most easily. This puts you at increased risk of sun-related skin damage and you should take extra care to protect your skin – NEVER allow yourself to burn. If you have pale skin, you do not have as much protective melanin. Skin cancers, especially melanoma, are less common in non-white skin types. However, they can still occur and sun protection is still important even if you have dark skin.
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Being Exposed To Ultraviolet Radiation Is A Risk Factor For Skin Cancer
Some studies suggest that being exposed to ultraviolet radiation and the sensitivity of a persons skin to UV radiation are risk factors for skin cancer. UV radiation is the name for the invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. Sunlamps and tanning beds also give off UV radiation.
- Risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer:
- Being exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight over long periods of time.
- Having a fair complexion, which includes the following:
- Fair skin that freckles and burns easily, does not tan, or tans poorly.
- Blue or green or other light-colored eyes.
- Red or blond hair.
Although having a fair complexion is a risk factor for nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancer, people of all skin colors can get skin cancer.
Tanning Beds Are Not A Safer Way To Get Uv Exposure
Experts agree that tanning beds are as dangerous for your skin as time spent in the sun. There is no safety in tanning beds,” Waibel says. “Many small doses of UV light exposure such as those that an indoor tanner might receive are more carcinogenic than the sunburn a vacationer might experience.”
Waibel adds that “there is very little regulation of indoor tanning salons, so there is great variability in operator safety.
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The Solar Ultraviolet Index
In the UK, the Met Office provides information called the Solar UV Index with their weather forecasts. The index is given as a figure in a triangle over the maps they use when giving forecasts. Basically, the higher the index , the greater the risk from the sun, and the more care you should take of your skin when outside. See the link in ‘Further Reading and References’ below.
Avoid Using Tanning Beds And Sunlamps
Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. Tanning lamps give off UV rays, which can cause long-term skin damage and can contribute to skin cancer. Tanning bed use has been linked with an increased risk of melanoma, especially if it is started before a person is 30. Most dermatologists and health organizations recommend not using tanning beds and sun lamps.
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Watch For Abnormal Moles
Checking your skin regularly may help you spot any new or abnormal moles or other growths and show them to your doctor before they even have a chance to turn into skin cancer.
Certain types of moles are more likely to develop into melanoma . If you have moles, depending on how they look, your doctor may want to watch them closely with regular exams or may remove some of them if they have features that suggest they might change into a melanoma.
Routine removal of many moles is not usually recommended as a way to prevent melanoma. Some melanomas develop from moles, but most do not. If you have many moles, getting careful, routine exams by a dermatologist, along with doing monthly skin self-exams are, might be recommended.
If you find a new, unusual, or changing mole, you should have it checked by a doctor experienced in recognizing skin cancers. See Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer for descriptions of what to look for.