Bright Ideas for Sun Pro­tec­tion

Wellness Update - - Front Page - ---Ju­lia Par­sons, cour­tesy of Bay­lor Col­lege of Medicine

Sun Pro­tec­tion Fac­tor (SPF) is not the only fac­tor to con­sider when pro­tect­ing your skin from the sun’s harm­ful rays. “We all know SPF is im­por­tant, but it ex­tends be­yond that,” said Dr. Ida Orengo, pro­fes­sor of der­ma­tol­ogy and di­rec­tor of the Mohs/Der­ma­to­logic Surgery Unit at Bay­lor Col­lege of Medicine. “Diet, cloth­ing and fa­mil­iar­ity with your skin type all fac­tor into sun pro­tec­tion.”


Diet can play a role in pre­vent­ing skin can­cer, Orengo said. The fol­low­ing items have been proven to re­duce the growth of ma­lig­nant cells and skin tu­mors: Omega-3 fatty acids Green tea Resver­a­trol (an in­gre­di­ent in red wine) “We have also con­ducted a study that proved low-fat di­ets play a role in pre­vent­ing skin can­cer,” she said. For those look­ing to in­crease their skin’s thresh­old for sun­burn, He­lio­care® sun pills can help and, ac­cord­ing to Orengo, a re­cent study showed that nicoti­namide, a type of B vi­ta­min, also may re­duce the num­ber of skin can­cers one gets. She rec­om­mends vi­ta­min D sup­ple­ments for peo­ple who are ex­perts at avoid­ing the sun. Your physi­cian should be con­sulted be­fore chang­ing your diet or tak­ing sup­ple­ments. Orengo warns that diet alone can­not pre­vent or cure skin can­cers, only help aid in the process.


For long days out in the sun you’ll need more than sun­screen. Orengo sug­gested toss­ing out the base­ball caps with ven­ti­la­tion holes and opt­ing for a hat with no holes and at least a three-inch brim. “Con­sider buy­ing light­weight cloth­ing that prop­erly cov­ers and pro­tects your body from the sun’s rays,” she said. “Many out­door stores now sell sun-pro­tec­tive cloth­ing. There also are prod­ucts that will add SPF to your own cloth­ing.”


Another tip to pro­tect­ing your skin is to know your own skin type, said Orengo. The Fitz­patrick scale is a nu­mer­i­cal clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that rec­og­nizes how vary­ing types of skin re­spond to sun ex­po­sure. Orengo said der­ma­tol­o­gists are fa­mil­iar with the scale but in­di­vid­u­als should also take time to un­der­stand their own risk. Type 1: Burn all the time Type 2: Burn ev­ery time, then turns into a light tan Type 3: Burn but get a good tan Type 4: Some­times burn, al­ways tans Type 5: Rarely burns, al­ways tans Type 6: Never burns, al­ways tans

“It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that we do need sun,” she said. “When sun hits the skin it trans­forms vi­ta­min D into its ac­tive form. We need about 10 to 15 min­utes of daily sun ex­po­sure for proper vi­ta­min D lev­els. Vi­ta­min D sup­ports healthy brain, heart and im­mune sys­tem func­tion.”

“Types 1, 2 and 3 are more likely to get skin can­cer,” she said. “Types 4, 5 and 6 can get skin can­cer, but it’s less likely. They should still pro­tect them­selves from the sun.”

For some types of skin, sun­block may work bet­ter than sun­screen be­cause it phys­i­cally blocks ul­tra­vi­o­let ra­di­a­tion from pen­e­trat­ing the skin. This is es­pe­cially true for peo­ple who have sen­si­tive skin, Orengo said.

Re­gard­less of your skin type, Orengo said skin health should be ev­ery­one’s con­cern and fol­low­ing these tips, as well as see­ing your doc­tor regularly for skin checks, is a good way to pre­vent skin can­cers.

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