KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens

Studies show that those who regularly used sunscreens were more likely to burn than those who did not. I explain why and what to do about it with KRON 4 Morning News Anchor, Marty Gonzalez.

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Why Sunscreen Users Burn

Possible reasons for this finding* are that sunscreen users:

    1. May have a false sense of security.
    2. Justify staying outdoors loner.
    3. Don’t follow label directions properly.

*National Health Interview Survey of 31,000 Americans recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

Commonly Missed Spots

The most commonly overlooked areas when it comes to applying sunscreen are the most vulnerable to skin cancer. These body parts are exposed to the sun almost daily and not covered up during the colder months.

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The scalp, ears, back of neck, hands, lips, & arms are exposed to aging UVA rays all year around.
  • Scalp: Use an oil-free sunscreen (least greasy option for hair) if you’re bald, shave your head, and on your part.
  • Ears: Cancer occurs frequently on the ears.
  • Eyelids: Cancers often develop on the skin around the eyes. Difficult to protect with sunscreen if you don’t want lotion in your eyes. Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses.
  • Lips: One of the highest risk areas for squamous cell cancer. When they develop on the lips, there is the highest chance of spreading and 35% chance of recurrence. RISK OF DEATH could be as high as 15%.
  • Hands: If you wash your hands after applying sunscreen, the backs of your hands end up with zero sun protection. Must reapply sunscreen onto backs of your hands after washing them (that includes after using the restroom too). Remember… when driving, the backs of your hands, arms, and face are highly exposed to UVA aging rays. Glass filters out only one kind of radiation — UVB rays.
Driving
Wear sunscreen when driving. UVA rays, which penetrate deeper, can still get through glass.
  • Back of the neck:  This is a high-risk zone for basal and squamous cell cancer. Even if your have long hair, it needs sunscreen.
  •  Back: According to the American Cancer Society, men are particularly at high risk of developing deadly melanoma on their backs. The back is a difficult area to apply sunscreen and often leads to severe sunburns.

sunburn on back

ALERT! If you’ve had five or more blistering sunburns, your risk of melanoma is increased by 80% and your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer is increased by 68%.

  • Feet: If wearing sandals or have bare feet, your skin can burn easily. Apply sunscreen to tops of the feet.

Date and Shake Your Sunscreen

  • Mark the date that you opened the sunscreen with a waterproof marker if there is no expiration date. Sunscreens are meant to maintain their original potency for 3 years.
  • Shake it (even if the directions don’t say to) to distribute the active ingredients throughout the product.

Use Enough Sunscreen   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens”

KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You

One third of U.S. adults are getting sunburned each year which raises their risk of skin cancer. Getting just one sunburn every two years can triple your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. I was diagnosed with skin cancer in August 2013. For my story, click here.

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Three Major Types of Skin Cancer

  • Melanoma (most aggressive and deadly) — Men are more likely to DIE of melanoma than women. 
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – Most common
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – 2nd most that

Researchers believe that men are more vulnerable to melanoma than women due to the differences in their skin. Men tend to have thicker skin with less fat beneath it and it contains more proteins (collagen and elastin). These are the fibers that give skin their youthful appearance as they provide firmness and keep it tight. Perhaps why some men seem to age more gracefully than women?

A man’s skin is more prone to melanoma than a woman’s skin.

But here’s the bad news… researchers are correlating these skin differences to being more likely to be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. A study conducted in the Netherlands found that men’s skin reacted more intensely to UV rays than did women’s skin. A separate study reached the same conclusion.

How My Cancer Saved My Husband’s Life

Cancer of the skin is the most common of all types of cancer. I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma five years ago (August 2013) and have not had any recurrences or new lesions. Here’s what happened to me: Why I’m Now a Statistic.

When I was diagnosed, it shocked my family because beginning in my mid-20’s, I became a sunscreen fanatic (a.k.a. the Sunscreen Police). After my diagnosis, I cunningly managed to get my husband to make an appointment for his first skin cancer screening. As a competitive swimmer in his youth and a ‘sunscreen resistor’, if I could have cancer, he was also at risk.

As a result, my husband was diagnosed with MELANOMA. Fortunately, because his cancer was caught early (Stage 0), the cells were only found in the outer layer of his skin. To put this in perspective, melanoma at Stage 3 has spread to the lymph nodes. Melanoma is an aggressive, fast-growing, deadly form of cancer. It can grow rapidly within WEEKS! You must be diligent and act fast.

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?

  • Basal cell carcinoma accounts for 8 out of 10 skin cancers and usually develops on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face and neck, but they can occur anywhere. 
  • It affects people of all ages.
  • Grows slowly and it’s very rare for basal cell carcinoma to spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant parts of the body. 
  • It is malignant because BCC invades and causes significant destruction of surrounding tissues and bone as it goes deep beneath the skin and can be disfiguring.
  • Over 50% of the people diagnosed with one basal cell cancer will develop a new skin cancer within five years.

My Treatment

The Mohs technique was used to remove my cancer because it was on my nose and this surgery could retain as much healthy tissue as possible. Mohs is appropriate where there are limited underlying layers of skin tissue. It is the best treatment for therapeutic and cosmetic results. Here’s more on my Mohs surgery. On the other hand, my husband’s melanoma (which was on his arm and visually quite small) was surgically removed with a very wide excision.

Skin Cancer Prevention 

Don’t brush off any changes on your skin as “nothing”. Protect yourself and your children.

1. Limit ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Whether you’re 8 or 80, have fair or dark skin, you need sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun for LONGER THAN A FEW MINUTES. UVA rays age cells and can damage cells’ DNA. UVB rays can directly damage DNA and are a more potent cause of sunburns and skin cancer. To protect yourself, follow the “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap” catch phrase.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You”

The Dark Side of Sunscreen | The Health Reporter Minute

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The long-term benefits of wearing sunscreen are backed by solid scientific research, but there’s also evidence that a common compound in sunscreen may cause skin damage.

Sunscreen Additive and Skin Damage

An FDA study found a form of vitamin A, that’s used in sunscreens may actually speed up skin damage.  41% of over 500 sunscreens contain vitamin A, or retinyl palmitate, due to its popularity for preventing wrinkles in cosmetics.  However, preliminary data showed even low doses of this additive may be unsafe.

When applied to the skin, retinyl palmitate reacted with sunlight and increased the development of skin tumors and lesions.  This is disturbing since sunscreens are formulated and promoted as protection against sun damage. The Environmental Working Group researchers recommend only 39 (or eight percent) of the sunscreens on the market this summer.     Continue reading “Sunscreen Additive and Skin Damage”