Strange And Effective Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society sun and tanning bed exposures are the primary preventable cause of skin cancer. So you should stay out of the sun, right? Or at least slather on sunblock, right?
Think again. Although it is true that sun or tanning bed exposure can increase skin cancer risk, the connection isn’t as simple as you’ve been led to believe. And it turns out that avoiding natural sunlight can actually increase your risk not only of skin cancer, but of dozens of other, more fatal cancers and a long list of other diseases.
In today’s article we’re going to look at what you can do to safely and effectively reduce your risk of skin cancer. And it involves catching some rays.
Putting Skin Cancer In Perspective
Skin cancer is a broad term for various types of cancer. Of skin cancers, 98 percent of them are types that are essentially non-fatal. The remaining 2 percent, called melanomas, are the least fatal of all types of cancer. In fact, the 5 year survival rate of melanoma in the United States is 98 percent.
Of course, no one wants to be among the 2 percent of those to develop skin cancer who get melanoma. But let’s put this in perspective. Among men in the United States there are 855,000 cancer diagnoses every year. Nearly 30 percent of those are prostate cancer. Nearly 15 percent are lung cancer. Nearly 10 percent are colorectal cancer. A full 7 percent are bladder cancer.
Skin cancer doesn’t even make the top 4. And all the top 4 forms of cancer are far more deadly than even melanoma. For example, the survival rate for prostate cancer is 85 percent. The survival rate for bladder cancer is just 57 percent. The survival rate for lung cancer is only 8 percent.
Sunlight And Cancer Risk
Even if it was true that all sunlight is bad for the skin (which it is not), the fact remains that all the other types of cancers that are far more common and far more deadly than skin cancer are made more common and more deadly by a lack of sunlight! Therefore, getting adequate sunlight is an important way to protect your health.
Studies are clear on this fact. Prostate, lung, bladder, and just about every type of cancer is more common among those with the least sun exposure. And it’s not just any sunlight that is protective - it’s the ultraviolet rays that the American Cancer Society warns you will give you skin cancer that are protective.
Not only does sunlight protect against every other type of cancer. It also protects against skin cancer! Studies show that those with the lowest sunlight exposure are at a 30 percent greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Smart Sun Exposure
Have the experts been lying to you when they’ve told you that the sun can harm you? No. It’s not that simple. There is good evidence that excessive sunlight exposure or the wrong types of exposure can harm you. So you have to be safe. Don’t make the mistake of going from zero sunlight exposure to a week-long sunlight marathon on the beach. Read on, and I’ll give you the inside scoop on how to be safe.
First off, as I already mentioned, research shows that the ultraviolet (UV) rays are what provide the most protection when it comes to cancer (and many other diseases). So you do not want to apply a sunscreen that will block UV. But neither do you want to give yourself a sunburn by staying in the sun too long. Both can be harmful.
Research shows that the greatest risk is for those who receive infrequent sun exposure. For example, those who work in offices most of the year and then take a 2 week vacation to the beach are at the greatest risk of developing skin cancer. But those who receive regular and modest amounts of unfiltered sunlight are at the lowest risk.
Also, UV is of several types. UV-A is the type that can cause the most damage while UV-B can cause the most benefit. UV-A is highest at morning and late afternoon while UV-B is highest at midday. Therefore, according to research, the best time to get your sun exposure is in the middle of the day when the sunlight is more direct.
However, as I stated, you do not want to burn. For greatest benefits exposing a large amount of skin to the sun for a short amount of time each day whenever the weather is warm enough is best. Just 5 minutes a day may be enough for many people, and as the skin adjusts over time, you will be able to stay in the sun for longer periods of time without the risk of burning and damage.
Other Ways To Protect Your Skin
You can also protect your skin through nutrition. Research shows that eating the right foods can improve skin health, reduce the risk of burning, and reduce the risk of cancer.
Here are some of the skin superfoods:
- Berries - substances in berries call anthocyanins (the blue, red, and purple pigments) can protect against UV damage. So chow down on raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and related fruits.
- Tomatoes - in earlier articles you’ve learned about the many benefits of lycopene, a substance found in large amounts in tomatoes (and also in some other fruits). The benefits keep stacking up. Research shows that those who eat a lot of lycopene experience less skin damage.
- Salmon - oily fish in general is a good source of omega 3 fats, and research shows that increasing omega 3 fats while decreasing omega 6 fats (from seed oils particularly) can improve skin health and reduce skin cancer risk. Salmon is a doubly good choice because it is also a good source of something called astaxanthin, which is what makes it pink. Small amounts of astaxanthin also protect the skin. (I don’t recommend supplemental astaxanthin, however, because large amounts can interfere with DHT production, and as a man you want DHT.)
Research also shows that dietary or supplemental vitamin D can also be protective. If you eat oily fish, whole milk, and egg yolks along with getting modest sun exposure regularly, you may have enough vitamin D in your body. But many people do not, and so modest vitamin D supplementation may be healthful. Like most things, however, less is more. Modest amounts of vitamin D are good, but excess amounts can cause imbalances and problems.
In summary, to protect yourself from developing skin cancer and just about every other type of cancer (plus lots of other diseases), get regular and small amounts of unfiltered sunlight on your skin. Don’t burn. And take care of your skin with nutritional support by eating plenty of berries, tomatoes, oily fish, and other good sources of dietary vitamin D.