Skin Cancer: Minimize Your Risk by What You Eat

 I write a lot about the importance of diet to our health and well being. What we eat – and what we do not eat – has been proven to directly affect obesity levels, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, osteoporosis and even dental diseases.SunWith spring’s arrival heralding warmer weather and longer, sunny days, people will be spending a lot more of their free time outdoors. Ask anyone to tell you what they consider to be the number one cause for the rise in skin cancer worldwide, and I will bet you they will unanimously blame sun exposure.

But guess what? That’s not entirely correct! You see, the sun is only partially responsible for the dramatic rise in skin cancer worldwide.

As with so many other major, life-threatening diseases, our diet has a huge impact on the health of our single largest external organ – our skin. Before I explain how diet is involved, let’s first look at the major types of skin cancer.

The three different “skin cancer” conditions are, from least to most serious: basal cell carcinoma, squamos cell carcinoma (the precursor for which is actinic keratosis) and melanoma, which is the deadliest form because it tends to spread or metastasize. The first two mentioned are the most common forms, as well as being non-melanoma type.

According to the website TopicalInfo.com, during a period of 51 years in the United States, from 1950 to 2001, cases of melanoma rose 690 percent! And though basal and squamos cell skin cancers are not required to be reported to cancer registries as do melanomas, there is still sufficient evidence to support that their occurrence is at least doubling every 20 years.

Very few people know that 40 to 50 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States are skin cancers. Though melanomas make up a very small portion of these incidents, (about 3 to 4 percent,) it’s important to note that 75% of all skin cancer deaths are from melanomas!

These significant rises in the occurrence of all forms of skin cancer have happened despite the increased and widespread use of sunscreens.

Applying SunscreenIt is, however, critical to note that while using sunscreen has been shown to reduce the formation of actinic keratosis, which can lead to squamos cell carcinoma, the use of sunscreens does not prevent the more serious and deadlier form of skin cancer known as melanoma.

So how can we reduce our risk from this rising threat?

Most people know that diet plays a vital role in skin health. During the 35 years from 1970 to 2005, as the incidence of melanoma steadily rose in the United States, interestingly enough, so did, almost equally, the consumption of vegetable oils (margarine, salad, cooking oils.) But the introduction of UVA/UVB sunscreens in 1980 did not show any significant or measurable effect on rising melanoma rates.

It is also important to note that while non-melanoma cancers may not be life-threatening, they’re still quite serious.

The non-deadly forms of skin cancer, especially when left untreated, can be extremely disfiguring. After treatment for localized damage, which can sometimes be severe and widespread, it is often necessary to follow-up with some form of plastic surgery, especially when the cancer occurs on the face.

There are three factors which contribute to the occurrence of skin cancer: cell damage, the presence of certain enzymes and hormones (too many or too few) and a compromised immune system. Most people associate skin cancer with the cell damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun itself or more recently from the popular, but dangerous, use of tanning booths, or from being exposed to toxic chemicals in our environment.

However, when certain chemicals (enzymes or hormones) are out of balance in our bodies, and/or our immune systems are compromised, skin cancers may also result, especially the deadly melanomas. We know that along with special white blood cells in our body called natural killer cells, pancreatin, produced by our pancreas, also serves to kill cancer cells. Its other responsibility is to aid in the digestion of foods we eat.

When we consume too many protein-rich foods or, even worse, polyunsaturated fats, we overburden deplete the pancreatin in our body, weaken its defense mechanism and increase our risk of developing cancer.

Polyunsaturated fats are unstable, so when they are not digested by the pancreatin, they settle in skin cell structures. Once there, they are very susceptible to damage by contact with oxygen or by ultraviolet light from the sun, and free radicals are formed.

Free Radicals

Once formed, the free radicals are able to damage the cell’s DNA, thus causing genetic cell damage or mutation of the cell into a cancer cell. Therefore, although the ultimate cause for the mutation of the cell can be blamed on exposure to the sun, the underlying or originating cause is the consumption of polyunsaturated fats and too much protein.

Today, most people don’t think about what causes illness or disease in the first place. And what’s way more frustrating to me, is even fewer people practice prevention. Instead, we rely on treatment, which is costly, often very painful, and not always successful.

It’s never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle! Remember, that by making even little changes you can become a healthier you. By stopping that first mutated cell from ever forming, you can avoid getting cancer. So, the next time you’re smoothing on the sunscreen, why don’t you stop and ask yourself: “What did I eat today?”

If you are ready to be inspired, supported, motivated and encouraged to create a life to love, and to receive a FREE, 45 minute Coaching Consultation, I invite you to contact me at (856) 854-7393 or eileen@midlifeandmenopausecoach.com. I will get back to you promptly, usually within 24 hours.
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