Tag Archives: Sun Damage

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

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

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

How Feng Shui May Inspire Your Sun Protection

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

FengShui c_image004Despite that many outdoor adventures or summer activities are exciting, have you ever had a dreary reaction or unexcited feeling towards sunscreen or other “sun accessories” before heading out the door? I have to confess to it myself.

Well, next time it happens, try this new sun care strategy, i.e. to get inspiration from Feng Shui. Here is how:

First, what is Feng Shui? What does it have to do with health?
For those who are unfamiliar with Feng Shui, let me explain it briefly. If I translate it exactly from the Chinese language, Feng is “Wind” and Shui is “Water”. Originated in ancient China, the principles of Feng Shui are based on inner peace, serenity, energy, harmony, and joy. Good Feng Shui promotes good health, and bad Feng Shui signifies poor health.

Now we focus on how to practice sun protection from Feng Shui’s perspective.
If you go out to enjoy nature or the beach, cheers! Chinese favor mountains and water, and view the natural beauty as good luck. In Feng Shui, the East, where the sun rises, has good energy, and the rising sun represents a new beginning or new opportunity.

Prepare your outdoor journey by getting your sun glasses and hat ready, applying the sunscreen to all areas of your body where will be exposed to the sun, and then massaging them in … the process can be a stress-relief. As a result, the sunscreen can prevent you from sunburns and enhance your experience of outdoor pleasure. After all, Feng Shui helps you become calm.

Next, when you are out, minimize the direct sun exposure. While the sun has very strong energy, according to Feng Shui, remember the balance and/or harmony. Too much strong sun and heat could make you feel tired or exhausted. Staying in the shade helps reserve your energy. Also remember that sun does cause skin damage and skin cancer does happen.

See, Feng Shui is about taking care of you, even when it comes to sun protection and skin cancer prevention.

What’s your insight or tip for sun protection?

Image credit: By healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu

Sunscreen-Wise versus Sunscreen-Abuse

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a carcinogen, period. UV damage comes from the sun. It is well established that excessive sun exposure causes skin cancer.  Sunscreen-wise is to know some important facts about UV radiation and sunscreen efficacy as follows:

1. Understand how sunscreens/sunblocks work. Briefly, a sunscreen can filter UV radiation from sunlight. A sunblock, on the other hand, reflects or scatters the UV rays away so that it doesn’t reach the skin at all, which is preferable.

2. Be mindful about UVA.
a) UVA exposure of human skin mainly produces free radicals, which lead to DNA damage, cell and tissue injury, and consequently skin cancer.
b) UVA alters immune function, and it is primarily responsible for skin aging.
c) Over 90% of UV radiation is UVA, and it penetrates the skin deeper than UVB.

3. Clear up any confusion on SPF (i.e., sun protection factor). SPF is a number that you can use to help determine how long you can stay in the sun before getting a sunburn, and sunburn is caused by UVB radiation. Likewise, SPF measures how effectively the sunscreen formula limits skin exposure to UVB rays. The higher the SPF, the more protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays; which is only meaningful within the range of 1 to 45, as science has shown. Currently, there is no uniform measure for UVA protection or absorption.

4. Now you know what to look for when choosing a product for sun protection. Remember: The degree of UVA filtration determines the quality of overall UV protection, whereas the number of SPF indicates the quantity of UVB protection.

5. Practice sun protection and know why. The use of sunscreen/sunblock plays a role in skin cancer prevention, esp. melanoma prevention.

In comparison, sunscreen-abuse is to use a sunscreen in order to allow a person to stay in the sun too long. Although sunburns may be prevented, skin cells are on their way to malignancy. This especially happens when a product is inadequately used, or no longer effective or with incomplete UV spectrum protection. In one word, sunscreen-abuse can compromise sun safety and skin protection.

How Much Damage Can the Sun Cause?

Do you know that more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by excessive exposure to the sun? What’s the risk for you to develop skin cancer?

Let’s start with sun exposure. 15-minute sun exposure is enough for the body to generate vitamin D although vitamin D can be obtained from other dietary sources. However, hours of exposure to the sun when less protected can result in serious sun damage. And the biggest threat that the sun poses to our health is its capacity to cause skin cancer.

Sun-damage skin_3044103081_2e267c8a50_mThe sun emits three types of invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays, i.e. UVA, UVB, and UVC. It damages the human skin primarily through UVA and UVB. UVA rays are responsible for rashes, and allergic reactions, while UVB rays, for sunburns. Surely, both UVA and UVB speed up skin aging; yet more seriously, they cause skin cancer. These effects vary with seasons, time of the day and location on the planet related to the sun. For instance, the rays are strongest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the summer. Threat of UVC rays is negligible, since they are essentially blocked by the ozone layer.

Therefore, the number one risk factor of skin cancer is too much time in the sun. Likewise, a history of spending significant time at tanning salons also increases the risk. By now you know that tanning may give a great look on the surface but caustic harm in the deep.

Other risk factors of developing skin cancer include:

  • A sun-sensitive skin type or fair skin
  • Bad sunburns
  • Family history of melanoma or other skin cancers
  • Personal history of melanoma or any type of skin cancer
  • Having many moles (common or atypical ones)
  • Weakened immunity

See our S-H-A-D-E advice to protect your skin from sun damage. And follow our 9-characteristic guide to carefully examine your skin once a month and look for any spots that are new or changing.

For more information about Cancer Risks & Prevention, visit CancerPreventionDaily.

Photo credit: by linh.ngân

Staying Cool in the SHADE — 5 Ways to Prevent Sun Damage

May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is one of most common cancers in our society, although it is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Do you know that more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by excessive and/or unnecessary exposure to the sun?

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

No. 1
01111332_Sunright BodyBlock SPF 30S stands for Sunscreen application. 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. Make sure to use sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB.

No. 2
Sun Protc_thumb_2537912340_955014639d_tH stands for Hiding from the sun. Skin is the largest organ in the body; it’s essential 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.

No. 3
A stands for Away from the sun, Staying away from the sun is especially paramount between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., because this is when the sun is at its strongest, making this time the riskiest for sun damage.

No. 4
D stands for Defense with antioxidants or daily supplements. Sun damage is characterized by generating free radicals and antioxidants (especially carotenoids) are powerful weapons that fight or “catch” free radicals. Build up your antioxidant defense by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and by taking a daily supplement. As research indicates, nutritional supplements can alleviate sun damage and ease numerous skin conditions.

No.  5
Kid-sun-protect-Thumb_2265423267_593107c999_tE 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 even more unkind 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. M&F sun protec_thumb_2955868940_b1276b6e6e_tTherefore, skin damage happens earlier and at a deeper level.

Let’s recap the 5 ways that you can protect yourself from sun damage:

Sunscreen should be applied daily.
Hide behind the sun.
Away—stay away from the sun during its most intense hours.
Defense against the sun should include using a daily supplement.
Educate everyone—young and old, men and women.

Take home message:
The acronym SHADE stands for a set of effective weapons against sun damage. Armed with SHADE, you are safe when you enjoy the great outdoors on a nice, sunny day.

Phonto credits: by ktylerconk, Graham and Sheila , and by goodrob13