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Old 09-16-2010, 04:35 PM   #1
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Is there a way to help prevent skin cancer AFTER sun exposure?

Hello everyone.

I am 23 years old and I recently have been concerned about getting skin cancer. I am very fair skin with freckles and I have had a few bad sun burns in my life and I know this increases my risk of skin cancer. I have been using an spf of 55 now every time i go out in the sun. My question is though is there anyting that I can put on my skin that may help prevent the damage that has been done to my skin from developing into skin cancer? I am not looking for any miracle cure or anything. Just are there any tips or vitamins that help prevent skin cancer? I am never going out of the house un protected again.

 
Old 09-17-2010, 10:17 AM   #2
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Re: Is there a way to help prevent skin cancer AFTER sun exposure?

Hello and welcome!

There are a couple of schools of thought on this.

One group will tell you that, if you already have damaged your skin, there really isn't anything you can do now.

The other group will tell you that any precautions you take, at any point in your life, is a good thing. Experts and dermatologists fall into this school of thought. I do as well.

Being careful with exposure to UVA/UVB is vital. It is important to keep in mind that these are present even when the sun is not shining, such as cloudy days. Or that these can be reflected off of other surfaces, such as snow or concrete, so heat is not necessarily an indicator, either. Using sunscreen is one way to protect yourself. But learn how to apply it correctly! Most people don't apply enough (1 fluid oz is needed, and that is more than most people realize!), and do not apply often enough - sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours to remain effective. It also needs to be re-applied after one has become wet (after swimming or sweating). This is true even for "sport" sunscreens. Check the ingredients of the sunscreen you are using: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are best, with zinc oxide being more recommended. You really don't need more than an SPF of 30 - 35. Nowadays, there are lots of products on the market that contain these two components, have natural ingredients, are very effective, and have a reasonable cost.

Other ways to protect yourself from skin damage and/or potential cancer:

try to avoid direct exposure to the sun between the hours of 10am and 2pm, when the UVA/UVB rays are at their strongest. Wear protective clothing when outdoors: tightly woven fabrics (if you can see through them, so can the sun's rays!), what isn't covered by clothing cover with sunscreen.

Wear protective head coverings - many people think hair protects the scalp - NO! Hats, scarves, sun umbrellas can all help.

Don't forget the eyes! Ocular melanoma is very real, and the "cure" might be to cause blindness in one eye. Protect the eyes with sunglasses (or ski goggles) that are UVA/UVB rated - and wear them!

I've found it helps to keep sunscreen in various locations - that way, I'm never without it. I keep it in the bathroom, of course. But it's also by the front door for those times when I'm rushing out the door. It's also in my car and I keep a small bottle in my purse. I also keep some in my desk at work. I really have NO excuse! (But then, I've had melanoma) Something important to keep in mind: sunscreen containers do not have expiration dates on them, and most doctors cannot tell you when sunscreen becomes less effective. A good rule of thumb? Replace all sunscreen once a year. I do this in May - it's Melanoma awareness month, and it's right before all the outside activities begin. I go through and toss every bottle/container of sunscreen I have - doesn't matter when I bought it! I go out and buy all new and replace them. That way, I know every container of sunscreen I have is effective. (Though the one I have in the bathroom is the one I have to keep replacing throughout the year, anyway!)

Also, find a dermatologist you like and feel comfortable with, and set up a schedule for annual skin checks. If you have a set time that you go in for your annual physical, I would set up the skin check for roughly 6 months later. That way, you have a doctor looking at your skin every 6 months. Just a good general idea. AND, look at your own skin once a month. It's easy enough to do: pick a date each month, and when you get out of the shower, just look. You will need a big hand mirror to do this, but you will come to know your own skin and what looks unusual and what may change. The majority of melanomas that are discovered are found by the patient themselves.

I commend you for taking your skin health seriously at your age! Your skin is your largest organ, the most visible, and the one that gets exposed to so many elements. You are on the right track!

 
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Old 09-17-2010, 11:18 AM   #3
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Re: Is there a way to help prevent skin cancer AFTER sun exposure?

Thank you for your response. I have been applying a really good physical/ chemical sunscreen by schseido every time I leave the house. I do this RIGHT before I leave the house because I know it only last 2 hours. I have been doing a ton of research on this. I am just scared that the damage has already been done! I am never going outside un protected again! I saw online that some topical antioxidants help to prevent cancer. I am wondering if it's worth a try. Some are so expensive!

 
Old 09-20-2010, 10:06 AM   #4
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Re: Is there a way to help prevent skin cancer AFTER sun exposure?

For me personally, I would talking to a dermatologist is your best bet in the topical care of skin going forward. A derm can give you insight in things to look for, products to stay away from, what might be the proverbial "snake oil." I would caution to find a dermatologist that specializes in skin cancers, though, as opposed to those that seem to derive most of their income from skin fillers - Botox and Juvenal.

An important fact to keep in mind is that you really are what you eat. What is on the inside is reflect on the outside! By eating a diet that contains whole grains, lots of vegetables, fruit, lean proteins (such as fish and chicken - or even vegetarian), and healthy fats you will be taking of yourself and this will be reflected in your skin. A diet rich in antioxidants can help fight free radicals, which can wreck havoc on the cells in the skin. Antioxidants can be found in many fruits, vegetables, green and black teas, and many other foods!

Make sure you get enough exercise! It doesn't have to long, laborious workouts at the gym, either. Whatever you like to do that gets you up and moving is great! Walking, bike-riding, swimming, playing sports, yoga. Do some form of physical activity every day. The benefits for overall health is amazing! And, again, when everything is working great on the inside, the outside will reflect that.

Try to alleviate the stress in your life. You can do this through meditation, yoga, relaxing maritial arts, focused breathing. Stress can cause so much damage to our bodies in so many ways.

Last, but certainly not least, make certain you are getting all the nutrition your body need to function to the best of its ability. It's best to get this from the foods you eat, but sometimes you will need to supplement. Make sure you are getting all the vitimins and minerals you need. Also, it has been reported that vitimin D3 is an excellent combatant against a number of cancers. I've heard some say we should take 2,000IU, but I've also heard taking that much can also soften bones - YIKES! Personally, I take 1,000IU daily, but I would recommend you do your own research about this.

The human body is such a wonderful thing. It certainly does have the capability to heal itself, if we give it the proper tools it needs to do that. I think if you take the precautions you are have already implemented in your life, plus a healthy lifestyle of eating right, exercise, reducing stress, and proper nutrition, I think you will be on the right track!

 
Old 10-13-2010, 11:11 AM   #5
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Re: Is there a way to help prevent skin cancer AFTER sun exposure?

This is wonderful, practical advice. Thank you!!

 
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