7 Natural Nutrients and Powerful Antioxidants for UV Protection

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Fruits-Veggies_4566Have you ever gone for grocery shopping, wondering how to take advantage of natural foods for your UV protection? Or you might be just thinking loud “Help me – Help me with a shopping list for natural resources of antioxidants that fight UV and Sun damage!

Hey, this is a health-smart idea or initiative. After all, UV radiation causes DNA damage leading to skin aging and skin cancers. Although the skin holds many protective mechanisms against UV damage, the combination of accumulated exposure and UV-induced immunosuppression can overwhelm the skin’s natural defense. There are a myriad of natural resources for your protection.

To combat UV’s harmful effects and strengthen your skin defense, I’m going to put seven types of super foods and nutrients on the spotlight in this post, and talk about how they provide UV protection.

1.      Carotenoids

Carotenoids micronutrients can scavenge free radicals that cause DNA damage to skin, and protect skin injury and/or problems resulting from sun damage and UV radiation. In general, colorful veggies and fruits with bright natural pigments are signals of carotenoids-rich foods, such as carrots, red, yellow or orange peppers, and oranges.

2.      Lycopene

Tomatoes are lycopene-rich super food; and lycopene can neutralize the harmful effects of UV light by scavenging skin-damaging free radicals. Additionally, tomatoes also contain beta-carotene and vitamin C. In the summer, as well as in all seasons, it is so easy and refreshing to include tomatoes in virtually any dishes from salad to pizza and side dish. Grape/Cherry tomatoes can be excellent snacks!

3.      Resveratrol

Resveratrol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-viral properties. It also exerts cardioprotective, neuroprotective and analgestic actions. Research shows that resveratrol can regulate cellular activities in response to radiation and thus minimize UV radiation-initiated damage. Furthermore, resveratrol can neutralize free radicals generated from UV rays and counteract their harmful effects. Grapes are an superb source of resveratrol. Other foods containing resveratrol include wine, grape juice, cranberries, cranberry juice, and peanuts.

4.      Flavonoids

Dark chocolate is a wonderful source of flavonoids, which is well known for the protective benefits of the heart and blood vessels. Interestingly, research also suggests that dark chocolate protects the skin from sun damage. So, give yourself a treat or an excuse to consume it regularly, but not excessively. In addition, flavonoids-rich natural cocoa butter helps preserve skin’s elasticity and moisture.

5.      Green tea

Green tea is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, which have protective effect on UV-induced skin inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage. Green tea is also rich in catechins, which are known to have extremely powerful antioxidant properties. A cup of iced green tea in hot summer days serves as not only a beverage to ensure adequate hydration and promote youthful skin, but also a guard to prevent UV-induced DNA damage and reduce skin cancer risk. Green tea can be a great substitute for Coke or other sugar-packed soft drinks.

6.      Salmon

We all know that salmon provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, do you know that salmon helps build your skin defense? Research shows that Omega-3 essential fatty acids may protect skin damage and premature aging from UV radiation, this is because salmon also contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that can scavenge free radicals produced from the skin after sun or UV exposure. Additionally, astaxanthin helps alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with sunburn.

7.      Greens

Go greens! And you’ll never go wrong. Green leafy veggies are delicious, nutritious, and they help protect your skin damage from sun and UV radiation. Greens are the great sources of beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C and E – a full spectrum of carotenoids micronutrients and vitamins.

Certainly, dietary intake of antioxidants in terms of UV protection is considerably slower than topical application achieved by using sunscreens. However, an optimal supply of natural antioxidant micronutrients in the skin can enhance skin antioxidant defense against UV radiation damage, support your long-term wellbeing, and maintain your skin health and glowing appearance.

I hope that today’s grocery checklist is valuable for your UV protection and particularly beneficial for people at the greatest risk of skin cancer and other cancers as well.

 

Image credit: by Fruits-Veggies_4566

What You Need to Know about UV Radiation

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

UV radition n Ozone layerHere comes the sun! And we all enjoy it. Humans live with many benefits from the sun, as do organisms including plants, animals, and microorganisms. But today, let’s face an unfavorable side of the sun by examining some harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, in association with skin cancer.

The sun, of course, is a major source of UV rays, and our skin is a natural target of UV radiation. Excessive exposure to UV radiation is the most significant risk factor for skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in fair-skinned populations in many parts of the world, including the United States. An alarming reality is that the incidence and rates of morbidity and mortality of skin cancers are increasing! Over 2 million of Americans are diagnosed with skin cancers annually, and an estimated 9,710 people will die of malignant melanoma in 2014.

So, what do you need to know in order to have a clearer understanding of UV radiation damage?

Important facts

Fact 1: The main clinical manifestation of UV exposure can be classified into

  •  Immediate effects, including sunburn, tanning, vitamin D production, and various skin disorders as well as deterioration of these ailments.
  •  Long-term effects, including skin aging and skin cancer.

Fact 2: UV exposure in children under 10 years old has been linked with an increased risk of developing melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers later in life.

Fact 3: High numbers of nevus (or mole), freckles, red hair, blue eyes, and inability to tan, as well as a family history of skin cancer are the primary determinants of melanoma among adolescents.

Key factors

  1. The amount of UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface depends on ozone depletion, increased UV light, latitude, altitude and weather conditions.
  2. The amount of solar UV received by children and teenagers makes up 40-50% of total UV for individuals living to age 60.
  3. Unnecessary exposure to the sun and artificial UV radiation (e.g. tanning lamps) creates a significant personal attributable risks.
  4. Hereditary or familial melanoma accounts for approximately a tenth of all melanoma cases.

Vital damages

UV radiation is a known carcinogen. The effects of UV radiation are primarily mediated via direct damage to DNA in the skin cells and immune suppression of surveillance mechanisms.

  1. DNA damage includes single strand breaks, inter-strand cross-links, and nucleotide base modification as well as mutation. All wavelengths of UV radiation cause DNA damage to skin cells.
  2. UV-induced immune suppression contributes considerably to the growth of skin malignancies – both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. One of the immune defenses is an important surveillance system that maintains genomic integrity through cell cycle checkpoints. Once these checkpoint mechanisms sense the abnormal DNA structures, they execute cell cycle arrest and coordinate it with the DNA repair process. Imagine what the consequence would be when UV radiation inhibits immune surveillance.

Finally – Preventative strategies

  1. Keep a healthy practice of reasonable sun avoidance.
  2. Use sunscreens, and use in all the seasons if necessary.
  3. Consume antioxidants. Oxidation by free radicals mediates DNA damage upon UV insult, so antioxidants with direct free radical scavenging properties are considered as promising radiation modifiers or protectors.

Again, it is important to remember: childhood is a susceptible window for long-term harmful effects of UV radiation.

Image credit: by www.theozonehole.com

Fresh and Fast Salad for Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

healthy-greens-1369011-sAt CancerPreventionDaily, our commitment is to sustain hope and provide tools that help you take specific steps to stay healthy and reduce cancer risks. Today, I’d like to share with you our cancer prevention salads – it’s fresh and fast!

Ingredients and Recipes

Step 1: Mix the following ingredients together.

  •  lettuce
  •  arugula (unique flavor)
  •  tomatoes
  •  mushrooms
  •  potatoes (pre-cooked in cubes)
  •  eggs (hard-boiled and diced)
  •  raisins or craisins
  •  sunflower seeds

Step 2: Add your choice of salmon/tuna or chicken.

Step 3: Sprinkle some dill over the salad, along with 1-3 table spoons of olive oil (depending on the amount). Then add salt, pepper and salad dressing to your taste.

Variations

  • Use tofu for protein.
  • Use watermelon or grapes as alternatives of antioxidants, lycopene, vitamins.
  • Use almond or walnuts as nuts alternatives.
  • Use chives or basil as herb alternatives.

Although most of the veggies I described here were right from our vegetable garden, there are plenty of veggies or fruits that are tasty and nutritious.

The Principles of Cancer Prevention Salad

  1. Start with green veggies: Spinach, lettuce or Romaine lettuce, Broccoli, or combination.
  2. Build on colors (so-called “Rainbow”): Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or carrots. Fruits such as watermelon, peach, orange or grapes are welcome mixers.
  3. Include protein: Chicken or fish (e.g. salmon, tuna). In addition, beans, eggs (hard-boiled then sliced or diced), nuts and seeds can be good choices for vegetarians.
  4. Mix with cancer-fighting ingredients: Avocado, olive oil, minced garlic, or even lemon. Red wine vinegar or freshly-ground pepper can also be used.
  5. Garnish with healthy herbs: Basil, chives, rosemary or your favorites, fresh or dried. They go with the above salad components easily. Don’t have herbs? Sprinkle a few pieces of green onions.
  6. Remember raisins ─ a tasty trick! Otherwise, add grapes for natural sweetness – much healthier than synthetic sweeteners and sugar.

The bottom line is – summer salads are refreshing and easy with a nice variation. Importantly, they contain immune boosting and cancer-fighting nutrients.

 

Image credit: by MeiTeng

8 Things You Can Do to Avoid or Minimize Benzene Exposure

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Benzene WarningHave you ever considered whether benzene may be being present in your workplace, community, or home?

Benzene is a widely used chemical. It is a colorless, flammable, and volatile organic compound with a pleasant, sweet smell.  Benzene is produced by the combustion of crude oil and gasoline. It is found in nature (e.g., in volcanoes and forest fires) and in cigarette smoke. It is also used to manufacture many types of products such as:

  • plastics
  • resins
  • nylon and synthetic fibers
  • rubbers
  • lubricants
  • dyes
  • detergents
  • drugs
  • pesticides

Benzene is a known environmental pollutant and carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia. Benzene exposure can also lead to numerous non-cancerous health problems that affect normal functions of the vital systems in the body such as cardiovascular, nervous, immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems.

The question is, how do you protect yourself and your family from any health hazards resulting from excessive benzene exposure? Here are eight actions you can take:

  1. Get well-informed. Know where benzene is in your vicinity, including what home products contain benzene.
  2. Avoid tobacco smoke, including passive smoke. Benzene is one of the carcinogens released from tobacco smoke. It is estimated that about half of benzene exposure in the United States is from cigarette smoke.
  3. Reduce outdoor exposure in areas around gas stations and areas containing motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, where the air contains higher levels of benzene.
  4. Keep indoor environments ventilated. Benzene in indoor air comes from products like glues, paints, furniture wax, detergents, and certain drugs. According to some experts, indoor air generally contains higher levels of benzene than outdoor air.
  5. Read labels when you shop for groceries, esp. soft drinks.
  6. Know your work-related exposure and protect yourself properly. In addition, if your company uses benzene in manufacture, try to ensure that it takes preventive measures since people working in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to high levels of it.
  7. Be aware of other environmental sources of benzene. For instance, benzene can leak from underground storage tanks or from hazardous waste sites. Waste sites containing benzene can contaminate well water.
  8. In general, always do your best to avoid benzene and other toxic chemicals.

Overall, health damages associated with benzene exposure are serious, so don’t overlook this dangerous substance and take measures to prevent your exposure.

 

Leukemia risk and Lifestyle modifications

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

leukemiaJune is Men’s Health Month. Let’s celebrate it by enhancing public awareness of preventable health problems especially some cancers, and by encouraging early detection of cancer among men and boys. Today, let’s tackle a type of cancer that that you might not know a lot about—leukemia—with a focus on its risk factors.

Leukemia is a malignant cancer of the blood cells and develops in the bone marrow. According to National Cancer Institute, estimated new cases of leukemia in 2014 will total about 52,380, while death in 2014 will be about 24,090. There were an estimated 302,800 people living with leukemia in the United States in 2011.

What causes leukemia is still not completely known, although it has been shown that exposure to large amounts of radiation or certain toxic chemical such as benzene increases the risk of leukemia. Noticeably, in a recent publication from NIH-AARP diet and health study that examined 493,188 individuals, findings revealed that the risk of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML, one of four main types of leukemia) is directly associated with smoking and obesity, but inversely associated with vigorous physical activity, female sex and years of education. Therefore, the study suggests that lifestyle factors may affect the risk of this disease.

Given this, let’s approach this topic based on two categories: controllable and non-controllable risk factors for leukemia.

Controllable risk factors

1.  Smoking: Smoking releases thousands of chemicals including many toxic substances and carcinogens. Among them is benzene, which is a known carcinogen to human and known risk factor of leukemia. Cigarette smoke is a major source of benzene exposure.

2.  Obesity: As mentioned earlier, NIH-AARP’s large population based epidemiologic research has demonstrated that obesity, measured by a high body mass index (BMI, 30 indicating obesity versus <25 kg/m2 normal), positively influences the risk of CML. Plus, obesity is a risk factor for cancer of breast, prostate, and colon as well as other cancers.

3.  Radiation exposure: Doses of radiation, including ionizing UV radiation from sunlight and tanning bed as well as from medical treatment, may add up.

4.  Diet: Poor nutrition or malnutrition leads to various diseases and increased risk for some cancers, although no associations of various dietary factors with leukemia was found in NIH-AARP study. Exposure to benzene from beverages may constitute a minor contribution to the risk, but it is clear that foods can influence both strength of the immune system and growth of cancer cells.

Non-controllable factors

1.  Gender: Men seem to have a higher incident of leukemia than women.

2.  Age: More than 65 percent of people diagnosed with leukemia are over the age of 55.

3.  Race: Leukemia is more common among white people than other races.

4.  Genetic factor: Although most leukemia have no family link, incidents cases among siblings or first degree relatives of some parents with leukemia may still put you at an increased risk for developing this disease. In addition, certain genetic disorders such as Down syndrome may also be a risk factor.

5.  Environmental factor: Specifically the carcinogen benzene is to be avoided. Long-term exposure to or contact with products containing benzene raises the risk of leukemia, whether it is occupation-related or in daily life. Benzene can be inhaled from the air. It is found in petroleum, cigarette smoke, industrial workplaces, and even in home environments where it may arise from some plastics, paints and detergents.

Preventative strategies

A healthy lifestyle is so critical for cancer prevention because at least 35% of cancer can be prevented by lifestyle modification. Even if you have leukemia, treatment can be enhanced by some simple healthy lifestyle strategies. These include (but not limited to):

  • Avoid radiation.
  • Avoid or minimize exposure to harmful chemicals and carcinogens, such as benzene.
  • Quit smoking and avoid passive smoking.
  • Maintain healthy weight through nutritious diet and regular exercise.
  • Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, and avoid benzene-hidden foods.
  • Limit the exposure to fumes from gasoline, as well as fumes from solvents, paints, and art supplies, especially in unventilated environment.
  • Get your benzene level tested if you have been exposed to benzene over a long period of time (e.g., a work-related exposure).
  • Consult your physician at once if you experience unexplained symptoms such as chronic fatigue, weight loss, appetite loss, frequent infections, night sweats, short of breath, ongoing low fever, or slow wound healing, which can be signs of leukemia.

In the end, we cannot control our age, gender, race, family history, or even some environmental factors, but we all do have power over our own lifestyles.

 

Image credit: By www.bumrungrad.com

A New Strategy for Developing Healthy Habits

Ghandi-Quote_Keep thoughts positiveMahatma Gandhi once said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”                                                      

This wisdom from Gandhi can be applied not only for the sake of inspiration for personal development but also for motivation to develop healthy habits. Today, let’s talk about a strategy for many seemingly small battles that may be necessary for living a healthy lifestyle.

This strategy is to embrace Gandhi’s chain of connections, thoughts → words → actions → habits, by starting out with thoughts and then formulating those thoughts into words, which then influence your actions and finally lead to healthy habits.

For example, if you feel a craving for sugar or sugar-rich food, tell yourself “I can pass it up” or “I want to eat healthier food,” and say it out loud. Then do something to counteract the desire for sugar, such as eating some veggies or fruits or taking a walk. Each time when your craving comes back, think about your valuable health, repeat your words and your practice, realizing that the process of thoughts-words-behaviors-habits is connected with your results.

Since too much stress can influence us to eat too much or make other unhealthy choices, it is also very helpful for developing healthy habits to do the following: If you feel stressed out, give yourself a break. Shift your focus to relaxation or find something to laugh about. This can help keep your mind healthy, which is important because a healthy mind and healthy brain guides you to function more effectively as you move toward accomplishing whatever you do.

Let me reinforce this new strategy by citing another famous quotation from Gandhi – “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  

 

Image credit: By getorganizedwizard.com

Cell Phone Use and Cancer Risk Concerns

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

mobile-in-hand-704926-mDo you use a mobile phone (or cell phone)? Likely, the answer is “Yes”.

Advanced and popular technologies such as mobile phones have a significant impact on our communication and convenience in a fast-paced modern life. However, there may be some health concerns associated with cell phone use.

Today I’m going to draw your attention to a couple of important points regarding cell phone safety, and to help you understand why and how to protect yourself from potential cancer risk and health hazards without compromising your convenience.

Radiation differenceWhere does cell phone radiation go?

Cell phones work by transmitting radio frequency (RF) radiation, i.e. non-ionizing radiation, which is different from UV radiation (ionizing). Cell phone radiation is weaker than UV rays and X-ray, but stronger than FM radio signal. Cell phone radiation strength is measured by Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).

A part of the RF waves emitted by cell phones is absorbed by the human head, and other can go into air (i.e. environment). So it’s considerate if one tries not to let others passively expose to the phone’s electromagnetic fields, especially in crowded public settings.

Does cell phone use cause cancer?

First, there is a possible link between cell phone use and cancer risk, especially brain tumor development. Research involved human subjects shows that cell phone use is associated with some cancers including brain tumors and cancer of central nervous system such as gliomas (malignant brain tumors). Swedish researchers revealed a close association between long-term use of cell phone and the risk of brain tumor. Studies also show that the frequent mobile phone users are likely to suffer a tumor on the same side of their brain that they use their phone. However, a few studies found no connection between cell phone use and cancer risk. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, and the WHO labeled it too.

Second, children are more vulnerable to the potential carcinogenic effects of cell phones. Their vulnerability may be based on 1) the thinner skull for RF radiation’s penetration; 2) a smaller head size for relatively greater RF penetration; 3) a greater susceptibility of their developing nervous systems; and 4) their longer lifetime of exposure. One study clearly indicates that a child’s brain absorbs up to twice as much RF as an adult’s brain.

Although the link between cell phone use and cancer risk is inconsistent, it is wise to take caution. Moreover, cell phone use does cause some health problems related to location of the body, time or magnitude of exposure, such as damaged sperms and skin illness.

What are top cell phone use strategies to protect yourself and your family from cancer risk?

  1. Use moderately (or limit its use).
  2. Use when signal is good and strong.
  3. Keep it away from your head if possible (or using the speakerphone function).
  4. Make conversations short.
  5. Use a cell phone with the lowest SAR possible.
  6. Allow minimal use in children. Cell phone is not a toy for kids, but a tool. It’s a long-term protection for kids if they only use when absolutely necessary such as emergencies.

Bonus tip: Deposit old or used cell phones conscientiously. Some components of cell phones such as antennas, speakers, and keypads, etc. are small in size but contain heavy metals and hazardous materials, which is not earth or environmental friendly.

 

Image credit: By ratnesh, jesuino, and jan-willem

How to Avoid Too Less or Too Much of Vitamin D

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Vit D Nature-MadeVitamin D is known for its critical role in forming and maintaining strong, healthy bones, but it also links to a broad spectrum of health benefits, such as those for cardiovascular and neurological functions. Most of us mainly acquire vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. However, sun’s UV rays cause skin cancer. So, there is a health conflict, right?

Today, we’ll talk about solutions to this problem, i.e. how to make sure you get enough vitamin D for your health, but not too much.

How much do we need?

For general population, the recommended amount of vitamin D daily intake for an individual aged 1 to 70 is 600 IU. This amount can be increased to 800 IU/day for those over 70 years old. It’s important to know that the recommendations are made based on an assumption of minimal or no sun exposure.

Three ways to get vitamin D

1.      From the sun, with sun protection

The most beneficial effect of sun exposure is the production of vitamin D in the skin. However, it is essential to practice sun care and protection. We’ve published several blogs covering various strategies and tips for sun protection. You can use these resources.

Because UV radiation from the sun can cause skin cancer and because there are other sources where you can acquire vitamin D safely and inexpensively, let’s next look at how to meet your need through diet and vitamin supplements.

2.      From food

Foods rich in vitamin D include fish (esp. swordfish, salmon, tuna contain high vitamin D), beef liver, milk fortified with vitamin D, yogurt, cereal and orange juice fortified with vitamin D. You can integrate these foods to your diet intentionally.

3.      From supplement

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the natural form of vitamin D produced in the skin after sun exposure. It is available as a single ingredient in over-the-counter vitamin supplement, and also commonly incorporated into calcium supplements and multivitamins.

In summary

Sensible sun exposure, certain foods rich in (or fortified with) vitamin D, and vitamin D supplementation should help improve the vitamin D status not only for bone health but for lowering the risk of developing or dying of cancer.

Words of wisdom:

Vitamin D deficiency can cause health problems, but vitamin D overdose can cause intoxication such as hypercalcemia, renal and hematologic abnormalities. Never take vitamin D to prevent cancer since the evidence is inconsistent and inconclusive.

 

Reduce Your Risk: National Cancer Prevention Month

diversity-6-888077-mThis week we are sharing and re-posting an article on this platform, by which we work with our partners in spreading the word to enhance awareness and save lives. Here goes:

By The Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign

More than 7.6 million people die each year from cancer, a true epidemic.  Of those deaths, more than 100,000 are caused by asbestos exposure. Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 1/3 of those deaths could be avoided.

In an effort to build awareness and to honor National Cancer Prevention Month, there are a few steps you can take to increase your knowledge and decrease your risk. The Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign stands with our friends at the American Cancer Society in striving to create more birthdays in 2014.

Stay Active

Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight throughout your lifetime can help to reduce your risk for a variety of cancers. Obesity can also trigger an increased production of hormones that allow for cancer growth.  The American Cancer Society estimates that one quarter to one third of all cancer related deaths can “be attributed to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity.”  In addition, exercise contributes to the overall health of an individual, arming your body with the necessary tools to fight off other illnesses that could affect your body’s defenses. Experts recommend you elevate your heart rate for 30 minutes a day.  Think you don’t have time? Try going for a walk, taking the stairs, or parking further away. You’re never too busy to stay healthy.

Early Detection

One of the best preventative measures you can take to decrease your risk of a terminal diagnosis is to ensure regular check ups and self screenings. The American Cancer Society recommends self exams to screen for skin cancer and breast cancer as well as yearly mammograms for those over 40. Treatment options may vary as cancer stages progress, therefore it is essential to monitor your body and seek medical advice when irregularities occur. Annual check ups are a great way to measure a variety of levels and will give your doctor an idea of what a healthy you looks like.

Limit Exposure

For cancers such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and skin cancer, often times an outside agent plays a role in the prognosis. Limiting exposure and protecting your body from carcinogens is a crucial way to decrease your risk factors.

  • When you’re outside – even on cloudy days – sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from UV rays. A hat and shirt or shawl are keys as well as for vacations or extended periods of time in the sun.
  • For those who work in construction or older homes, or have a knack for “Do-It-Yourself” renovation, taking the proper protections to guard your body against asbestos exposure is necessary. Microscopic asbestos fibers that become airborne can be inhaled and in turn lodge themselves in the lining of the lungs. Wearing protective clothing and face coverings and disposing of these appropriately is a must. As always contact a professional where possible.

So, let’s fight cancer together!

Protect Your Skin to Prevent Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Colour-blast-sun 1031204-mYou’ve probably heard a lot about sun protection and skin cancer prevention. But since you may be heading for sunny beaches or the swimming pool soon to enjoy sun bathing or to get a tan, you may want to learn a bit more about how sun protection can be critical for your health and your skin. So today, I’ll dive a little deeper into this serious subject.

What is UV radiation and where does exposure take place?

There are three types of ultraviolet (UV) rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Because UVC rays do not get through our atmosphere, humans are only exposed to UVA and UVB rays, which are dangerous enough to your DNA—the powerhouse of all genetic information in each living cells.

Sunlight is the main source of UV rays. Other sources often include tanning lamps and beds. Sunlight contains both UVA and UVB and causes much more damage than you think because the thinning of ozone layers makes UV rays increasingly more powerful.

How does UV radiation/sunlight enhance skin cancer risk?

UVA rays can penetrate into your deeper skin layers and damage the structural components of your skin, such as connective tissues and blood vessels. This results in the loss of skin elasticity, wrinkling, and premature skin aging. Furthermore, UVA rays cause the development of some skin cancers. UVB rays are a more potent carcinogen because they can directly damage your DNA, leading to sunburn and skin cancer. So, as you see, there is no such a thing of safe UV rays.

How may UV radiation directly damage your DNA? At the molecular level, UV radiation can cause DNA lesions, distort DNA structure by forming bends or twists, and impede DNA repair. Consequently, these impairments to DNA hinder transcription and replication. DNA integrity and stability are essential to one’s life. That’s why direct exposure to UV radiation is harmful.

Two types of skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma) are both linked to sun exposure. The fact that non-melanoma skin cancers (including basal and squamous cell carcinoma) occur more frequent in outdoor than in indoor workers supports the notion that the accumulated life-time exposure to UV radiation plays a significant role in the development of these skin cancers.

Melanoma is a malignant skin cancer, though it is rare. In contrast to non-melanoma skin cancer, a higher incidence of melanoma is found in indoor compared to outdoor workers, which suggests that cancerous development might be associated with UV exposure at younger ages and/or occasional, intensive exposure to sunlight (e.g., on weekends or vacations).

Protect Yourself

Next time you are outdoors, make sure to protect yourself and your family (especially young kids) from sun damage. Protective practices include wearing a hat and sunglasses, covering exposed skin with clothing, staying in the shade, and applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to body parts exposed to sun.

Take home message:

Exposure to UV radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. UV rays can damage your DNA and cause skin cancer. Sun protection is your No. 1 defense against skin cancers.

 

Image credit: By SEPpics