Thursday, August 4, 2011

Melanoma.  That's for someone else, right?   Sunscreen.  Again, that's for someone else.  Do you always live dangerously?   Read about someone who might be just like you.  Thanks Camille, for this very important and informative article.... love the sun?  Protect yourself!    Deanna

I Don’t Do Floppy Hats: Nutrition and Skin Health

August 1 2011 written by Camille Fletcher

Um, no.

“You really should get that checked out.”

Amy, a coworker friend, was the second person in a few months to point at my shoulder with a concerned look. I had been denying a nagging feeling about seeing a doctor, but Amy’s comment was the push I needed to pick up the phone. It was finally time to get the “sketchy freckle” checked out.

Flash forward a couple weeks, Sponge Bob Band-Aid stuck across my shoulder where the sketchy splotch had been removed. The doctor had the results—melanoma. Within another week, I had a new, much bigger bandage on my arm where more tissue had been removed, feeling lucky that it had been an early stage and wouldn’t require more. I also reflected that I had better kick my sun-protection strategies up about a zillion notches.

For me, staying out of the sun in my free time is not an option. Living in Utah, there’s way too much fun to be had in the great outdoors. So, of course, sunscreen and protective clothing are the first consideration.

Resigned to a life of pasty whiteness, I also stay in the shade whenever possible. My vanity gets the best of me when it comes to a large brimmed hat. I just don’t do floppy hats. So, in lieu of committing what, on me, is definitely a fashion blunder, I started wondering if there was something else I could do.

I knew that UV rays cause oxidative stress that can damage skin cells and inhibit the body’s natural immune defenses, so it seemed logical that there should be a nutritional angle to protecting those skin cells from the inside.

Nutrients to Help With Sunshine

First, vitamin D(3). My work time is all spent indoors. A study published in Medical Hypotheses in 2009 proposed that “inadequately maintained cutaneous levels of vitamin D(3)” makes indoor workers more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun. Evidence is mixed, but the “sunshine vitamin” is important for so many things, I figure it can’t hurt!

Next, this by-no-means-comprehensive list of research I found showed some encouraging beneficial effects of carotenoids:

Beta Carotene—An article in the German journal Hautarzt noted that studies have shown daily intakes of 15–30 mg of beta carotene over a period of 10 to 12 weeks produces a protective effect against sun damage (note: that’s a lot of beta carotene. You won’t want to get all that from a supplement. Make sure to eat plenty of dark green and orange/yellow fruits and veggies). A nice side effect of eating all that beta carotene is that you could get a bit of a natural “glow,” which one study suggested is perceived as more attractive than a suntan!

Lutein & Zeaxanthin—A study published in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology in 2007 showed that, aside from an increase in surface lipids (good for skin hydration and elasticity), in only two weeks, women who supplemented with 10 mg of lutein and .6 mg of zeaxanthin per day experienced a four-fold increase in natural photo-protective activity in the skin. The effects were even better if combined with topical lutein and zeaxanthin.

Lycopene—A study published this year in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that women who consumed 16 mg of lycopene from tomato paste provided protection against photo-damage. (Again, that’s a lot of lycopene. So make sure you eat your red fruits, like tomatoes and grapefruit, or marinara sauce on your pasta.)

A number of other phytonutrients are believed to be helpful as well, but most research isn’t in humans yet. Green tea, grape seed, silymarin (from milk thistle), resveratrol, and even curcumin all have shown promise.
The key is having plenty of this stuff in your body when the sun exposure occurs, which is why it is so important to regularly and consistently eat the right diet and to take your supplements. It takes your body a while to build up ample stores of the nutrients, especially if your diet has been deficient, which is why taking something every once in a while just doesn’t cut it.

Obviously there are no guarantees. Your best bet is to keep on top of every aspect of your health. So see the doc and get your sketchy freckles checked, wear your sunscreen, and do your best to get a balanced diet every day to give yourself the best line of defense against oxidative-stress-causing UVA and UVB rays.
And maybe wear a hat… It’s only been a couple weeks since the last stitches came out, and I’ve already managed to get a sunburn, despite my good intentions. Guess I’ll keep trying to convince myself to give the floppy hat a try…

*I am not a scientist or a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Please know this doesn’t even come close to medical advice!

Thanks for this great article from   USANA Health Sciences.  Check out our website for detailed information:

Dave and Deanna Waters   204-237-8250  Let's talk!
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