Something New Under the Sun: Skin Cancer and Menopause
By EllenDolgen on May 26, 2014
For many women in their teens and twenties, seeking the perfect 10 of a tan used to be a full-time job on hot summer days. However, those of us going through menopause need only glance at the age spots on our hands to wish we had a ‘do over!’
Skin cancer incidence is up by an alarming rate and according to the Mayo Clinic, it has increased eight-fold overall in middle-aged women since 1970, with women in their late forties showing a marked increase in melanoma. That information has prompted studies of a menopausal hormonal connection to this disease with mixed results.
Spot Skin Cancer
First line of defense is you and the knowledge of your own body. It’s wise to spend one morning a month carefully looking at your skin armed with a hand mirror to see those hidden areas such as under your arms and behind your ears and even between your toes. Tech lovers will be happy to know that smart phones are in on the act with teledermoscopy software for mobile devices. Zoom, point, shoot and text suspicious spot shots to your dermatologist!
The Skin Cancer Foundation lists three basic types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. That’s the one that can be invasive and very lethal. However, as we age, most growths are what doctors call ‘barnacles.’ They’re ugly, but harmless. So, how can you tell what’s what?
Know Your ABC’s
The American Cancer Society says these are the five warning signs:
- Asymmetry—is the spot unequal when halved
- Borders—are they even because melanomas are uneven
- Color—most cancers show color variety including brown, black, even red or blue
- Diameter—most melanomas are the size of a pencil eraser or larger (1/4 inch)
- Evolving—bleeding, itching, crusting or size change
Don’t go it alone. The National Institute of Health says physicians can identify malignant skin cancers right off the bat, making twice-yearly trips to the dermatologist critical as one visual scan could be a lifesaver.
Studies show women who took aspirin daily had a 21% lower rate of melanoma than those who didn’t because of a positive chemical effect on the body
The American Institute for Cancer Research found that your morning Joe contains powerful antioxidants in fighting cancer. Turns out that lingering over that second cup in the morning is good for you. Coffee has a chemical compound that binds with the beans when they’re roasted, creating a powerful anti-oxidant immune boost. Not a bad way to start the day!
The University of Maryland Medical Center says these vegetables are super heroes in the cancer fight:
- Broccoli, celery and onions (contain flavonoids which fight inflammation)
- Tomatoes, apples, cherries and grapes (resveratrol found in the skin is the key)
- Turmeric spice (anti-oxidant)
Omega 3 in fatty fish is a proven tumor fighter, according to numerous university studies, because it slows the progression of skin cancer and reduces inflammation—a contributing factor in many types of cancer.
Last but certainly not least—always use a powerful sunscreen with the ingredient avobenzone, which has been proven to absorb the full spectrum of ultraviolet rays. Your sunscreen should have an SPF15 or greater, which filters out 93% of those harmful rays. Studies show that solar radiation can suppress your immune system, giving skin cancer room to grow, so be sure to make applying sunscreen part of your morning routine.
Skin is the biggest organ of your body and deserves a second look. Become as dedicated to fighting skin cancer now as you were to getting a summer tan back in the day. Taking care of your skin proactively translates to a healthy glow without even a hint of a tan!
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