Skin Cancer and what to do to reduce the chance of getting it.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in fair-skinned populations around the world. The incidence and mortality rates of skin cancers are dramatically increasing and pose a threat to public health.
Skin Cancer is widespread and can be contracted by exposure to the sun or ultraviolet rays.
It tends to take a long time to become a problem. It is not uncommon for babies and small infants to get sun burnt and then skin cancer showing up later in their lives. It is for this reason that it is recommended that children and young adults need to cover up and stay out of intense sunlight. The recommendations are avoiding getting sun burnt, wearing protective clothing, sunglasses and hats, and attempting to avoid sun exposure in the middle of the day when the sunlight is hottest. This of course, is an almost alien concept for young adults who like to get almost naked at the beach and remain in the sun most of the day. It is only later in life that the damage to the skin becomes apparent in the form of skin cancer.
The lighter the skin the more likely it is that you will get skin cancer, especially if you are outside most of the time. Using sunscreen and clothing where you cannot see through the weave helps protect you from the harmful effects of the sun.
Other factors that increase your likelihood of getting skin cancer are;
- Smoking tobacco
- HPV infections increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma. Most HPV infections are characterised by the presence of warts on the body.
- Having a birthmark or moles of varying size which are either present at birth, or appear within 6 months of birth. Birthmarks larger than 20 mm (3/4″) in size are at higher risk for becoming cancerous.
- Chronic non-healing wounds.
- Ionizing radiation such as X-rays, environmental carcinogens, artificial UV radiation (e.g. tanning beds), aging, and light skin color. The World Health Organization now places people who use artificial tanning beds in its highest risk category for skin cancer. It is believed that tanning beds are the cause of hundreds of thousands of skin cancer cases.
- The use of many immunosuppressive medications increase the risk of skin cancer. Some of these medications can increase the risk up to 200 times, and are commonly used in organ transplant cases.
Sunscreens and Skin Cancer
While sunscreen is recommended to protect the skin from excessive sunlight exposure during the middle of day, dependent on the sunscreens ingredients you may actually be applying cancer forming substances onto the skin. This is especially true if the sunscreen contains any petrochemicals and/or their derivatives.
From a peer reviewed study, (“UV Protection and Sunscreens etc”, Jou et al, citing a follow up response, “Increased Melanoma After Regular Sunscreen Use?”, Goldenhersh & Koslowsky, Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2011, 29:e557-e558”), a higher rate of melanomas on areas that had been allegedly ‘protected’ by broad spectrum sunscreen was found.
It appears that by building a sun-safety message anchored primarily in the need for pharmaceutical companies to make a profit out of sunscreens, we have created a false but widespread public belief that sun exposure is easily controlled through sunscreens.
This does not appear to be true. There are a number of studies that prove sunscreens are effective at protecting against ageing of the skin, and against largely harmless forms of skin cancer. But the real reason most people apply sunscreen is because they fear the Big-C that the media constantly warn them about.
So what happens when people swap their natural defence against melanoma (a natural suntan obtained without getting sun burnt), for a solution obtained from a bottle that turns out to be ineffective? Melanoma rates go up despite increasing usage of sunscreens, and that’s exactly what has happened since 1935.
Since suppressing the immune systems response increases the likelihood of getting skin cancer, it would seem logical that strengthening the immune system will protect against skin cancer. The use of natural products (such as Sawa Wasabia japonica capsules) is likely to be of benefit as a preventative measure against skin cancer (and other cancers).
Surviving Skin Cancer
In general, skin cancer (melanoma) is poorly responsive to radiation or chemotherapy.
The survival rate for people with melanoma depends upon when they start treatment. The cure rate is very high when melanoma is detected in early stages, when it can easily be removed surgically. The prognosis is not good if the melanoma has spread to other parts of the body.
Australia and New Zealand exhibit one of the highest rates of skin cancer incidence in the world, almost four times the rates registered in the United States, the UK and Canada. Melanoma is the most common type of cancer in people between 15–44 years in both countries. The incidence of skin cancer has been increasing in both countries. The incidence of melanoma among Auckland residents of European descent in 1995 was 77.7 cases per 100,000 people per year, and was predicted to increase in the 21st century because of “the effect of local stratospheric ozone depletion and the time lag from sun exposure to melanoma development” (The Ozone Hole).
The reduction of ozone in the atmosphere by the use of manmade chemicals (HFC’s) increased the amount of harmful ultraviolet light reaching the Earths surface. Regulations have been applied nearly worldwide banning the use of these chemicals which has slowed the reduction in ozone. Now the scientists have found that the amount of ozone depleting chemicals high in the atmosphere have not reduced but appear to be increasing every year.
Every year large “ozone holes” form over the Antarctic and Arctic regions in the summer, some of which extend over populated areas (especially in Southern New Zealand and Australia) thereby raising the possibility of getting skin cancer in these regions.
Preventing Skin Cancer
- Make sure your parents don’t get you sun burnt when you are a baby. Or at least don’t let your baby or child get sun burnt
- Stay out of the sun in the hottest times of the day (normally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
- Wear clothing where you can’t see through the weave
- Wear a hat or scarve if you need to go out into the sun
- Stop smoking
- Stop going to tanning salons
In the case of Skin Cancer, prevention is definitely better than getting bits of your body removed as you age because of contracting Skin Cancer many years previously.