Enjoying the sun and getting a tan can be health, but before you decide to go and enjoy the sun, there is some very important information to consider to minimize your personal skin cancer risk.
3 Main Types of Skin Cancer
1) Basal cell carcinoma: It is the most common form of skin cancer, affecting 60,000 Canadians each year. In fact, it is the most common of all cancers.
2) Squamous cell carcinoma:
This is the second most common skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma, afflicts more than 20,000 Canadians each year. It arises from the epidermis and looks like the cells that comprise most of the upper layers of skin. This type of cancer may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes, but are most common in areas exposed to the sun.
3) Malignant Melanoma:This is the most deadly of all skin cancers. Over 5,000 people are diagnosed annually in Canada, with more than 900 of those resulting in death. Early diagnosis is the key to positive outcomes
These are the Risk Factors
- Lack Sweating. Sweating is the body’s way of releasing toxins that have accumulated in the body. Lack of sweating leads to a build up of toxins in the body.
- Chemicals in Your Personal Health Care Products. Many health care products that we use on a daily basis come loaded with nasty chemical that have been directly related to increase cancer risks. When these chemicals react with the sun they greatly alter the natural terrain of the skin by affecting our good flora, altering the pH balance of skin leading to a more acidic environment which Cancer can thrive in, and altering the integrity of our skins therefore weaken its barrier function.
- A History of Sunburns. Having had one or more blistering sunburns as a child or teenager increases your risk of developing skin cancer as an adult. Sunburns in adulthood also are a risk factor. Even a single severe sunburn increases your risk of developing melanoma which is the deadliest form of skin cancer; frequent severe sunburns doubles your lifetime risk. When you see or feel your skin redden, take cover. Remember, sunburns can also be dangerous for babies and toddlers, possibly leading to dehydration and heat stroke.
- Inadequate Vitamin D Levels. Having adequate Vitamin D status is actually shown to be protective against cancer. Making sure that you get enough sunlight improves Vitamin D stores in the body. The best time to stay out of the sun to avoid burning is between the hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm. As long as the skin is not burnt, getting a bit of sunshine and a gentle tan can go along way to improve your health and well-being.
- Fair Skin. Anyone, regardless of skin color, can get skin cancer. However, having less pigment (melanin) in your skin provides less protection from damaging UV radiation. If you have blond or red hair and light-colored eyes, and you freckle or sunburn easily, you're much more likely to develop skin cancer than is a person with darker skin.
- Use of Tanning Beds. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Even occasional use of sun-beds, almost triples your chances of developing melanoma. Research shows young people - including teenagers - are especially sensitive to the UVR emitted from tanning booths.
- A Family History of Skin Cancer. If one of your parents or a sibling has had skin cancer, you may have an increased risk of the disease.
- A Personal History of Skin Cancer.
- Exposure to Radiation. People who received radiation treatment for skin conditions such as eczema and acne may have an increased risk of skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma.
- Exposure to Certain Substances. Exposure to certain substances, such as arsenic, may increase your risk of skin cancer.
- Moles. People who have many moles or abnormal moles called dysplastic nevi are at increased risk of skin cancer. If you have a history of abnormal moles, watch them regularly for changes.
Early Detection – What to Look for
Where skin cancer develops - Skin cancer develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. But it can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day — your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, and your genital area.
Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, including those with darker complexions. Its is a major misconception that if you are of a darker skin you don’t have to worry.
Self Examinations - Paying attention to your skin is as sure way to increase your chances of early detection. While self exams are great they do not replace the eye of a trained professional. Regular total-body checkups with your Naturopathic Doctor are the best way to make sure your skin is healthy and stays that way. It is recommended that you check-in with your naturopathic doctor if you notice any of the following:
- A persistent sore that takes more than 2 weeks to heal
- A skin growth, mole, beauty mark or brown spot that has at least three of the following characteristics:
- changes color or appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored
- changes in texture
- increases in size or thickness
- is asymmetrical
- is irregular in outline or border
- is bigger than 6mm, the size of a pencil eraser
- appears after age 21
Naturopathic Treatment for Skin Health
Naturopathic Medicine has many tools to aid patients in Cancer prevention and Cancer treatment. An individualized treatment plan that may include some of the following therapies listed below will have significant impact on quality of life , survival outcomes, and prevention:
- Intravenous Therapies – Including High Dose Vitamin C and Nutrient Therapies
- Alkalinizing Protocol
- Diet and Lifestyle Modification
- Immune Stimulation
- Decreasing Negative Side Effects of Chemotheraputics
Skin is the largest organ in our whole body. It is responsible for thousands of reactions that are vital to our health, so take care of it! To learn more about what you can do to take care of your skin and/or address any concerns you currently have contact Naturopathic Foundations for an appointment.