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A new study from Cancer Research UK says that more men are dying from skin cancer than women, despite similar numbers being diagnosed with the disease. Each year in the UK, malignant melanoma kills 1,300 of the 6,200 men who develop it compared to 900 of the 6,600 women… and the gap is expected to widen.
Professor Julia Newton-Bishop, a Cancer Research UK dermatologist, suspects that there are biological differences and that women are more immune to melanoma. “We’re working on research to better understand why men and women’s bodies deal with their melanomas in different ways."
"We think it is something to do with the immune system rather than hormones because pre- and post-menopausal fare the same,” she added. In addition, German researchers have identified a gene that makes men more susceptible to melanoma.
Other health experts say that the difference is because men delay seeing their doctor and thus are diagnosed more advance staged melanoma. Whereas women most often develop skin cancer on their arms and legs, men often develop the cancer on their back, making it more difficult to spot.
“Asking your partner to check your back is a good idea,” said Prof Newton-Bishop. Male incidence rates are now more than five times higher than they were 30 years ago - rising from 2.7 per 100,000 to 17.2 per 100,000.
If you notice any changes in your skin, go see your doctor. Detect the early stages of melanoma by knowing the ABCDEs. Wear sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 and generously re-apply every 2 hours. It's not about the SPF number, but about how often and how much you re-apply your sunscreen. Order the SunBuddy® - Back Lotion Applicator to help you apply sunscreen to your back and to other hard to reach areas of your body.
Past studies have shown that taking Omega-3 fatty acids, or commonly known as fish oil, have numerous health benefits such as preventing cardiovascular disease, reducing cholesterol, improving mental health by combating depression and ADHD, reducing plaque buildup and blood blots and arteries, and preventing skin acne and wrinkles. As if these benefits weren't already impressive enough, we may soon add preventing oral and skin cancers to that list.
New evidence has recently been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by a research team from The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom demonstrating how taking omega-3 supplements may help to protect against skin cancer.
Researchers found that taking a regular dose of omega-3 fatty acids boosted skin immunity to the sun by lowering immunosuppression or sunlight-induced suppression of the immune system. Thus, our bodies are able to fight skin cancer and infection more effectively.
Researchers analyzed the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on a group of 79 healthy volunteers. The volunteers took a daily four-gram dose of omega-3 and then were exposed to either 8, 15, or 30 minutes of summer midday sun from a special light machine. This supplemented group was then compared to a second placebo group.
Immunosuppression was 50 percent in lower in the participants who took the omega-3 supplement and were exposed to 8 and 15 minutes of sun compared to placebo taking participants.
"This study adds to the evidence that omega-3 is a potential nutrient to protect against skin cancer... they suggest that a continuous low level of chemoprevention from taking omega-3 could reduce the risk of skin cancer over an individual's lifetime."
– Dr. Lesley Rhodes, lead study author
Another group of UK researches from Queen Mary, University of London, grew lab cultures of several different skin lines – malignant oral and skin cancers, pre-malignant cells, and normal skin and oral cells. When researchers carried out in vitro tests by adding fatty acids into the cell cultures, results showed that omega-3 fatty acids induced cell death in malignant and pre-malignant cells while not affecting normal cells.
"We found that the omega-3 fatty acid selectively inhibited the growth of the malignant and pre-malignant cells at doses which did not affect the normal cells."
– Prof. Kenneth Parkinson
Unfortunately, our bodies cannot synthesize omega-3 and most of us don’t get enough of it in our diets. So, it's a good idea to take a supplement. Nutrition experts recommend a daily intake of 1,200 to 2,400 mg (combined DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids).
Here are some foods that contain high levels of omega-3
We hope to hear more on this topic soon!