Tag Archives: Summer Safety

Skin Cancer and Aging: Causes and Solutions

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

UV radition n Ozone layerHere comes the sun! And we all enjoy it. You may be heading for sunny beaches soon. I’d like to remind you of damage from the sun overexposure. By providing some key insights into harmful effects of the sun, and reflecting on skin aging, I am diving a little deeper into this subject, and will equip you with a sun protection tool kit – 5 Essentials or “SHADE”.

Numbers and Notions

First, do you know that more people suffered from skin cancer than all other cancers combined over the past three decades? Breaking down the statistics, it reveals approximately 40-50% of Americans who live to age 60+ will have one type of common skin cancers, and more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by excessive or unnecessary exposure to the sun?

Types of skin aging

If the above numbers cannot transmit the roles of aging and sun hazard in skin cancer, let me briefly elaborate what happened to our skin over our lifetime. As we age, our skin – the largest organ in the human body – goes through the same escalating loss of structure and function as other organs. But unlike other organs, the skin is openly exposed to environmental pollutants and lifestyle-related hazards (e.g. excessive sun, tanning, smoking, etc.). ALL is cumulative! Mostly concerning, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight causes so called “photoaging”.

I summarize here how photoaging differs from natural skin aging, to help you understand how biological evolution of the skin and adverse effects of the sun are interplayed.

Natural / Intrinsic Aging Photo- / Extrinsic Aging
Cumulative process Yes Yes
Common locations face, neck, forearm, and lower leg Yes
Cause Aging-related Sun damage overlaying natural aging
Visible characteristics Looseness, sagginess, fine wrinkles, dryness Increased pigmentation, deep wrinkles, harsh or rough skin
Structural alterations Epidermal − dermal area thinning and weakening, reduced elasticity, delay in wound healing Severe damage of dermal and connective tissues, promoting age-related skin diseases and skin cancer

Fundamental nature of Sun Damage

UV radiation is a known human carcinogen (i.e. cancer-causing agent). Let me expand further on UV radiation as a major causal factor of skin cancer and premature skin aging at cellular and molecular levels.

  1. UV radiation can modify DNA, intensify oxidative stress, and alter cellular antioxidant and immune defense, as well as other cellular structural or signal transduction pathways.
  2. UV-induced immune suppression contributes considerably to skin malignancies.
  3. UVB can directly cause specific DNA damage, when left unrepaired, it leads to mutations, consequently predisposing individuals to any cancer.

Importantly, bear in mind that UV exposure in children under age 10 has been linked to an increased risk of developing melanoma (malignant) and non-melanoma skin cancer later in life. Thus, childhood is a susceptible window for long-term dangerous effects of sun damage.

Sun safety with 5 Essentials – SHADE

Fortunately, skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. So, how can you protect yourself and your family? Employ this tool kit, i.e. the acronym “SHADE”.

S stands for “Sunscreen application”

A wide variety of sunscreens are available on the market but not all products are created equal. Make sure to use sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB. In addition, use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher on a daily basis.

H stands for “Hide away from the sun”.

Whether you stroll under the sun or enjoy outdoor adventures, wear sunglasses, a hat, and cover up with loose clothing. Also, make sure your sunglasses have both UVA and UVB blocking properties. 

A stands for “Avoid the sun during its most intensive time”

Staying away from the sun is especially paramount between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., because during this window of time, the sun is at its strongest, thereby making this time the riskiest for sun damage.

D stands for “Detect early and Defense daily”.

Skin cancer can occur just about anywhere on the skin, but most often on the areas exposed to the sun, of course, also in odd places. With that in mind, look out vigilantly for moles, bumps or spots, by following the “ABCDE” guidance from WebMD, and noticing pain or fluid as a red flag too, for early detection. Schedule an annual skin cancer screening if you are among those “high risk” individuals.

In addition, antioxidants are powerful weapons to fight or “catch” free radicals generated from UV. Hence, build up your antioxidant defense by eating plenty of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, and more salmon.

E stands for “Educate everyone”.

To emphasize, E is for educating, not entertaining under the sun! Start with children and young adults. Regardless of gender and age, we are all exposed to the same sun. Today, the sun is getting less merciful compared to three or more decades ago due to thinning of ozone protection.

Take home message: 

Keep a balance between sun pleasure and sun damage, and hold the value of proper skin care. At the end, healthy skin in the course of life may promote better mental and emotional health. And remember “SHADE”.

 

Reference (on the table): Quan & Fisher. Gerontology. 2015; 61:427-34.

Image credit: thezonehole.com

“SHADE” — 5 Essential Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Girl Pointing At Sky In Summer_StokpicSkin cancer remains one of most common cancers in the United States. Fortunately, it is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Do you know that more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by excessive or unnecessary exposure to the sun?

Everybody loves the sun! However, you can suffer serious consequence from over-exposure. Just like anything else, moderation is key. Here I am going to guide you on how you can protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancer. The acronym “SHADE” is a handy way to remember the keys to your skin health.

1.     S stands for “Sunscreen application”.

This is an important sun safe practice. A wide variety of sunscreen are available on the market but not all products are created equal. Make sure to use sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB. Apply them generously to the parts of skin that will be exposed to the sun. In addition, use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher on a daily basis. Sun Protection Factor 15 provides protection 15 times longer before sunburn. Accordingly, SPF 30 provides protection 30 times longer.

2.     H stands for “Hide from the sun”.

Skin is the largest organ in the body; it’s necessary to preserve its function. Whether you stroll under the sun or enjoy outdoors adventures, wear sunglasses, a hat, and cover up with loose clothing. Also, make sure your sunglasses have both UVA and UVB blocking properties.

3.     A stands for “Avoid the sun during its most intensive time”

Staying away from the sun is especially paramount between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., because during this window of time, the sun is at its strongest, thereby making this time the riskiest for sun damage.

4.     D stands for “Detect early and Defense daily”.

Schedule an annual skin cancer screening if you are among those “high risk” individuals. Also, identify early signs of skin cancer through self-awareness or attentiveness from family members and friends. Look out for any moles, bumps or spots on your skin, notice any changes in size, color, height, asymmetry, texture and border, as well as any fluid or pain. In other words, know your ABCDEs as WebMD advised.

Sun damage is characterized by generating free radicals. Antioxidants are powerful weapons that fight or “catch” free radicals. So, build up your antioxidant defense by eating fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and micronutrients such as carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol and flavonoids. Eat more salmon, because higher Omega-3 essential fatty acids may protect skin damage and premature aging from UV radiation.

5.     E stands for “Educate everyone”.

Remember, E is for education, not entertainment under the sun! Start with children and young adults. Instruct skin care equally to women and men. Regardless of gender and age, we are all exposed to the same sun. These days, the sun is getting less merciful compared to two or three decades ago due to changes in ozone protection. Thinning ozone layers in the atmosphere cannot filter out UVA radiation and UVB radiation as well as they could previously. Therefore, skin damage happens earlier and at a deeper level.

Let’s recap the 5 essential ways for your sun protection and skin cancer prevention:

Sunscreen should be applied daily.

Hide behind the sun.

Avoid the sun during its most intensive hours.

Detect early and defense daily.

Educate everyone—young and old, men and women.

Take home message:

The acronym SHADE stands for a set of effective weapons against sun damage and skin cancer. To enjoy the great outdoors on a nice, sunny day, safe-guard yourself and your family with SHADE!

If you like the post, please share with others. Thanks for your help with cancer prevention!

 

Image credits: by Stokpic

Maximize Summer Fun and Minimize Cancer Risks

Summer danger_3202500746_71aef09d3b_mSummer is a wonderful season for just about everybody. We love to have fun! Whether you are on the beach to soak up some sun, taking a vacation trip with your family, enjoying playing with the kids outdoors, or barbecuing in your back yard, hidden hazards could take your joy away.

Raise your awareness of potential summer dangers

First, the acronym SAFETY can help you become aware of the following potential dangers:

Sunburn and sun over-exposure with its related risks
Allergies and infections (caused by insects, poison ivy, chiggers, etc.)
Food poisoning
Extreme heat, heat stroke, sitting in a hot car
Travel and roadway hazards
Youth-related risks (Children out of school are prone to outdoor accidents.)

6 Unforgettable tips that add to your summer fun!

Now, let’s revise the acronym SAFETY for 6 tips to prevent the above hazards.

Sunscreen SPF >15 to prevent sunburns, sun-retreat strategies to limit sun exposure
Avoid insect bites by using necessary bug sprays, without over-using insect repellents
Food safety procedures, from storing, cooking and clean water to hand-washing
Enough water to prevent dehydration, and little or no alcohol
Take responsibility for car maintenance, trip preparations, and road hazards.
Youngster’s supervision, babysitter instructions, and emergency readiness.

Being aware of these six kinds of hazards and being able to respond appropriately can help make summer a safe and enjoyable season.

How do you prevent summer hazards and keep safe? We love to hear it! If you like this post, please share it.

Photo credit: by Metal Cowboy

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