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Myth #1: A suntan's fine, as long as you don't burn.
Reality: While even one sunburn may double the chance of eventually developing melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer), your kids are still at risk even if they never burn. "The more sun you get, the more likely you are to develop certain skin cancers," says Martin Weinstock, M.D., chairman of the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Skin Cancer Advisory Group, no matter what your skin tone. "Any tan indicates damage to your skin."
Myth #2: A beach umbrella blocks the sun.
Reality: Sand reflects 17 percent of UV radiation, so you're still exposed, says Dr. Weinstock. Nevertheless, it's smart to stay in the shade when the sun's rays are high; just make sure you're also slathered with sunscreen.
Myth #3: Sun can't penetrate through windows.
Reality: Glass filters out only one kind of radiation -- UVB rays. But UVA rays, which penetrate deeper, can still get through. That's why many adults have more freckles on their left side than their right -- it's from UV exposure on that side through the car window when driving.
To protect yourself, apply sunscreen to any exposed areas (like your hands, forearms, and face) before getting into your car, especially in the spring and summer months, says Anthony Mancini, M.D., head of pediatric dermatology at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. If you're buying a new car, consider one with tinted windows, which keep out almost four times more UVA light than regular ones.
You don't need to worry about putting on sunscreen when indoors unless you or your child spends most of your time near a window (for example, if your child's desk is right next to one).
Myth #4: Too much sunscreen causes vitamin D deficiency.
Reality: You may have read that extra exposure to sunshine is needed to help your body make vitamin D. But according to the ACS, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF), both kids and adults get plenty of this nutrient through multivitamins, vitamin D-rich foods (like milk and fortified orange juice), and everyday sun exposure. Also, even if you're wearing sunscreen, small amounts of UV rays still penetrate your skin, and that's more than enough to help your body produce vitamin D.
Myth #5: If it's cool or cloudy outside, you don't need sunscreen.
Reality: According to the Skin Cancer Foundataion, up to 80 percent of the sun's UV rays can pass through clouds. This is the reason people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they've spent time outside with no sun protection. Even in the winter months, you need to beware: Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays, increasing exposure. This is especially true if your family's on a ski vacation-- the higher your altitude, the greater your UV exposure.
Myth #6: Eighty percent of sun damage occurs before the age of 18.
Reality: Contrary to previous estimates, recent studies show that we get less than 25 percent of our total lifetime sun exposure before age 18. That means you get the majority of it later on. So while you absolutely should be vigilant about protecting your kids, make sure you take care of yourself, too. While 83 percent of parents arm their kids with sunscreen and protective clothing whenever they're outdoors, only two-thirds practice what they preach, according to a 2005 AAD survey. "Remember, kids don't always pay attention to what you say -- it's more about what you do," says Dr. Weinstock. "If you're making them wear sunscreen but baking yourself, you're sending them a mixed message they may carry into adulthood."
Myth #7: People of color do not get skin cancer
Reality: People of color are less likely to develop skin cancer than Caucasians, but they have a higher risk of dying from it. A very dangerous and fast-spreading skin cancer known as acral lentiginous melanoma is more common among darker-skinned people and may appear as a suspicious growth in the mucous membranes, under the nails, or on the palms or soles of the feet.
The large gray areas on the left hand image show the spread of melanoma tumors to the lung. On the right hand side, the tumors have shrunk after treatment.
Pembrolizumab hailed as 'miraculous' in skin cancer trial
A pioneering new drug appears to have cured a British man with advanced skin cancer who had been given just months to live. The drug, pembrolizumab, is the latest in a new generation of treatments that prevent cancers shielding themselves from the immune system. It was tested on melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer - because the prospects for patients with advanced forms of this disease are so bleak.
Pembrolizumab is a synthetic antibody that blocks a biological pathway called programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) which cancers activate to suppress the immune system. In healthy individuals, PD-1 is part of the process that applies a "brake" to the immune system and prevents it running out of control. Without the brake, there is a risk of a harmful inflammatory reaction - a potential serious side-effect of the new drugs.
In a trial of 411 patients evaluating pembrolizumab - 69% of patients survived at least a year. This means a boost survival rates of melanoma from one in ten to nearly three in four. The result is considered remarkable because all had highly advanced melanoma and a very poor prognosis.
Currently one-year survival rates for untreated patients diagnosed with advanced stage four melanoma are just 10% for men and 35% for women.
Warwick Steele, a 64 year old television engineer from Ruislip, west London, had undergone six months of treatment with pembrolizumab, which is injected into the bloodstream. Doctors were astonished when after just three months his tumours had almost disappeared. Since then they have shown no sign of returning - and in fact have shrunk even further.
Before the treatment started he could barely walk because the melanoma had spread to one of his lungs and he found it hard to breathe. "I got tired simply standing up and was literally too exhausted to shave. But now I feel back to normal and can do gardening and go shopping", Steele remarks. Scans of his lungs - shown above - reveal that after just three infusions, the drug appears to have completely cleared the cancer from his lung.
More Trials Necessary
Doctors are urging caution. The results which have been published are of Phase I, early stage trials. Much larger Phase III trials are underway involving many UK hospitals. Only when they report, in about a year's time, can clinicians be sure what the likely benefits will be.
Like all drugs, the experimental treatments have side effects. Warwick Steele said he experienced night sweats and even had two brief blackouts when on the new drug. But he said it was well worth it, and doctors were now treating these symptoms.
Clinicians do not yet know the true extent of how pembrolizumab might affect survival. After 18 months, 62% of patients were still alive and undergoing treatment. In addition, around 80% of patients responded to the drug - an unusually high proportion. A total of 72% experienced tumour shrinkage, including 39% whose tumours were more than halved in size, according to one kind of assessment.
Additional data showed that the drug also reduced the size of advanced non-small cell lung cancers by up to 47%. Pembrolizumab's manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme, is expected to apply for a European licence to market the drug within months.
Source: The Independent, BBC News
Photo credit: BBC News
Sunburns can be tricky to avoid. After a long day in the sun, you can still end up with painful, lobster red sunburn despite your best efforts to protect your skin with sunscreen.
Most of the time, sunburns are mild first-degree burns on your outer layer of skin that turn red. With second-degree sunburns, the more severe type, your skin is red, painful and blistering. Fortunately, these two types of sunburns can be treated at home but if you are experiencing more serious problems, seek professional medical help.
Typically, sunburn symptoms continue to worsen during the first 24 to 36 hours after the sunburn. There are times where your sunburn does not show up until hours after you’ve gone back indoors or left the beach.
After 3 to 5 days, sunburns will begin to go away. However, it may take 3 to 6 months for your skin to fully repair and return to normal.
Here are some natural remedies for treating sunburns:
Your skin is inflamed after being sunburnt. Soak a towel or t-shirt in either cold water from the faucet or iced water and slip it on or lay it over the burn. Repeat every few minutes and apply several times a day for a total of 10 to 15 minutes each time. Cold compresses will cool down your inflamed skin and help reduce the swelling. Besides just cold water, you can use common kitchen foods too. Believe it or not, oatmeal is very effective. Wrap dry oatmeal in a cloth and run water through it. Discard the oatmeal and cold compress in the liquid. Also, cold compressing with a combination of 1 cup of fat-free milk with 4 cups of iced water works too.
Avoid soapy water and bubble baths. Soap will strip out moisture from your skin and further dry and irritate your burned skin. If you must use soap, use a mild brand and rinse if off very well. If you are really hurting and wish to take a bath, try an oatmeal bath or baking soda bath. Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment is made from oatmeal. Alternatively, you can grid a cup of oatmeal and sprinkle it into a tub of cool water. Swish the bath water around until it becomes milky. Soak yourself for at least 20 minutes and gently pat yourself dry with a soft towel. If you don’t have oatmeal, sprinkly baking soda into your cool bath, soak for 20 minutes, and then let the solution dry on your skin. Baking soda is nontoxic and will soothe your pain.
Do Not Pop Your Blisters
If you get a blister, you have a more severe case of sunburn. Although very tempting, it is best not to pop your blister. A blister is a bubble under the skin that is usually filled with fluid and form to protect the skin. Popping a blister can lead to an infection and even more irritation and pain.
Your skin loses much moisture from a sunburn and becomes very dry. Thus, it is crucial to aid in the repair process by frequently applying moisturizing cream or lotion. Be sure to not apply so much that your skin cannot breathe. Also apply aloe vera, a natural soothing, anti-inflammatory gel that has been used for thousand of years to treat wounds and burns. For added relief, cool your lotion of aloe vera in the refrigerator before applying to your skin. Hydrate Your skin and body has lost a lot of essential fluids and you may now have a fever or headache. Often times, these are signs of dehydration. Drink plenty of water and eat fruit to combat dehydration. Watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe
Take It Easy
Stay indoors, avoid the sun, and give your skin time to repair. Wise up and be more sensitive about your sun exposure and protect yourself with sunscreen, hats, and clothing.