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It’s wintertime and the livin’ ain’t easy—for our hair, skin, and nails, that is. Whipping winds, dry air, and chilly temperatures can really do a number on soft skin and hair. Cold air outside and central heat indoors can strip moisture from strands and pores, making hair rough and skin itchy and dry.
Skin isn’t only the barrier between the environment and our insides—it’s a living organ that’s responsible for keeping the body cool, protecting it against germs and “invaders,” and many other metabolic processes. It’s important to keep these tissues in good condition and working well all year long so they can do their jobs and keep us healthy and safe. Cracked, flaky, irritated, or inflamed skin is normal during winter, though it’s not exactly fun.
A 20-minute long, boiling-hot shower might feel great on a cold day, but stick to warm or lukewarm water for 10 minutes or less. Long exposure to hot water can strip moisture from hair and skin. Slathering on lotion within three minutes of stepping out of the bath or shower is most effective for trapping in moisture.
Load up on vitamin C-rich produce like citrus fruit and dark leafy greens. Vitamin C can help boost the body’s production of collagen, a protein that maintains skin and other connective tissues. And don't forget to drink plenty of water.
To prevent hands from drying out, apply moisturizer after hand washing and at least several times throughout the day. Keep a bottle of lotion by each sink in your home and in your desk at work. If hands are very dry, use cream instead of lotion because the former has a higher oil-to-water ratio.
Wearing rubber gloves while washing dishes can prevent hands from getting dried out due to excess contact with hot water, too.
Irritated, Dry Eyes
Wind and dry air are not a good combination for sensitive eyes. Sporting sunnies on a sub-zero day might look weird, but the lenses can protect eyes from glare and wind. Keep a bottle of non-medicated saline tears or eye drops on hand and use it to refresh eye moisture when needed.
Avoid eye drops like Visine, which causes blood vessels in the eye to contract, giving the illusion you 'got the red out.' Instead, use a lubricant such as Systane Eye Drops or Blink Tears.
When outdoors in cold weather, the blood vessels cut off circulation to the nose. After coming indoors the blood vessels dilate quickly, causing a rush of blood (and bright-red color). To bring the nose back to a normal hue, apply a warm—but not hot—compress to the skin for several minutes after coming indoors. Sometimes a winter cold and the tissues that come with it can make the nose raw and chapped, too.
When the sniffles hit, use extra-soft tissues and blot the nose; don’t rub it. Apply a thin layer of moisturizing ointment or lotion to the sensitive area throughout the day.
Rough, Cracked Feet
Scrub calluses with a pumice stone in the shower once per week to slough off rough, dead skin. Moisturize feet, especially the heels, every day with thick cream—lotions containing lactic acid are especially effective—and wear cotton socks to bed.
It may look nerdy, but sporting socks while snoozing can help creams absorb. Warmer feet means sweatier feet (ick), and moisturizers are most effective when applied to warm, damp skin.
Itchy Dry Scalp
Take cooler, quicker showers to reduce the scalp’s exposure to drying hot water. Think about switching to a dandruff or dry scalp specific shampoo. Before hopping in the shower, massage the scalp with Vitamin E, olive, or coconut oil. These oils replenish natural scalp oilsand can moisturize dry hair, too
Early Detection Not an Iron-Clad Guarantee
Researchers in Queensland, which has the highest melanoma rate in the world, have found that melanomas less than 1mm thick cause more fatalities than “thick” melanomas at least 4mm deep.
The findings, published in the US-based Journal of Investigative Dermatology, suggest Queenslanders are having suspicious skin markings checked out before they develop. “(But) this is not preventing people from dying,” said lead author David Whiteman. “It’s a sobering reminder that while we have been very successful at picking melanomas up early, it’s not an iron-clad guarantee.”
Professor Whiteman, of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, said researchers had known for decades that advanced melanomas carried poor prognoses. “The danger is proportional to how deep they are when they’re diagnosed,” he said.
“Thin” melanomas present only marginal risks to life, leading to assumptions that most melanoma deaths arise from thick lesions. But the team’s analysis of 20 years of Queensland Cancer Registry data, which took account of tumour thickness at diagnosis, revealed this was not the case.
While late-detected melanomas proved 12 times as likely to kill sufferers as those diagnosed early, the sheer number of cases — which almost doubled from about 1500 a year in the early 1990s to 2800 late last decade — meant thin tumours killed about 40 per cent more Queenslanders, on average.
Even Thin Melanoma Tumours Can Kill You
Over 15 years, this gap has grown from 24 per cent to almost 60 per cent. “We’re seeing a shift in the patterns of the people dying from melanoma,” Professor Whiteman said. “We must prevent melanomas in the first place, because once they occur, even thin ones can kill you.”
Professor Whiteman said data from elsewhere, including the US, pointed to similar trends. He said that while the incidence of melanoma in Australians aged under 40 was declining, it remained the most common cancer among the nation’s young. “That’s why we mustn’t give up on primary prevention — the ‘slip, slop, slap’,” he said. “Melanoma is almost entirely preventable.”
The Melanoma Institute of Australia says about 400 extra cases are detected each year. One in 17 Australians can expect a diagnosis by the age of 85.
Melanomas comprise just 2 per cent of skin cancers but cause three-quarters of skin cancer deaths, the institute says.
Flying increases exposure to UV rays that could cause melanoma
Airline pilots and cabin crew are twice as likely to suffer from skin cancer because of regular exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun at high altitude, US researchers said in a study published on September 3, 2014.
Analysis of 19 studies which included more than 266,000 people found that incidence of melanoma was between 2.21 and 2.22 higher for pilots and 2.09 greater for flight attendants, or more than twice the rate of the general population.
The incidence rate was attributed to ultraviolet rays filtering into planes at high altitude through cockpit windscreens and windows on the fuselage, the study’s author said.
Doctor Martina Sanlorenzo, from the University of California at San Francisco, said the study had “important implications for occupational health and protection of this population.” The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology.
Twice as Powerful
Researchers reported that at 9,000 meters (30,000 feet) above sea level, the cruising altitude of most commercial jets, carcinogenic ultraviolet rays were twice as powerful.
The researchers used a measure known as standardized incidence ratio, which helps gauge whether the cancer cases observed among specific groups of people are more or less than what would be expected in the general population.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the average American has about a 2 percent risk of developing melanoma during his or her lifetime. The researchers caution that they can’t say why cabin crews may be more likely to develop melanoma. It could be due to greater exposure to solar radiation as altitude increases and the protective barrier of the atmosphere thins.
Over 3.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancers in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. About 76,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma, which is the type of skin cancer that is most likely to lead to death.
Source: Reuters, Pakistan Today
Image Credit: iStockPhoto
Photographer Thomas Leveritt is hoping his video will help shed light on the importance of sunscreen and it seems to be having an effect.
The video shows how skin appears when viewed under ultraviolet lights. The difference is like night and day. People of diverse races are seen approaching the camera and then standing to be viewed. Many of them gasp to see the appearance of their skin under the UV light, which shows the appearance of the skin beyond what can be seen by the naked eye.
Also compelling is what happens when people apply sunscreen to their faces. The portion of skin that’s covered by the lotion appears under the UV as solid black streaks. Levitt says this shows that sunscreen can indeed block UV rays.
Here are some skin cancer prevention tips that doctors swear by.
Use Sunscreen Correctly
“Choose a sunscreen labeled SPF 30 or more, and includes the words Broad Spectrum and Water Resistant. Re-apply every two hours or after you swim or sweat. Apply sunscreen liberally. It takes approximately 1 ounce (a shot glass) to cover an adult.”
— Timothy Wang, MD, dermatologist for the Melanoma Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
Know What Works and When
“You should wear sunscreen even when driving in the car as window glass only blocks UVB light, not UVA. And UVA light is also associated with skin cancer and as well as skin thinning. The sunscreen in makeup can’t be relied on, as it is typically lower in SPF than claimed by the manufacturer and wears off easily.“
— Bruce E. Katz, M.D. Clinical Professor and Director of the Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Clinic. Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
Monitor Your Skin
“Be aware of your skin and regularly look for any changes, including new skin spots or moles, or changes in the size, shape or color of existing spots or moles. Take any concerns to your doctor for an evaluation. Have your skin examined annually by a dermatologist to check for signs of skin cancer.”
— Mary K. Tripp, Ph.D., M.P.H., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Instructor of Behavioral Science
Source: ABC News, Good Morning America
It's important to remember that for your healthiest, most vibrant skin, you must nurture it from the inside out. Here are 5 habits you can follow to help your skin be more radiant.
1. Protect your skin from the sun
Too much sun can make your skin age faster, cause sunburn and even lead to cancer. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, although SPF 30 is highly recommended. Also, wear a hat that covers the face and clothing made of cotton that covers the skin completely.
2. Maintain a proper diet and stay properly hydrated
Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and beans. Many healthy foods have antioxidants, which boost skin, hair, and nail growth. Some research suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates might promote younger looking skin.
Make water your first choice of drink. The old adage of 8 glasses a day is no longer true. The basic equation for determining the minimum of water your body needs a day is by dividing your body weight in half. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need 75 ounces of water per day. If you are outdoors a great deal, exercise, or doing any other strenuous activity, you'll need to intake more water.
3. Don't smoke
Smoking takes away oxygen and nutrients from the skin. It can cause and worsen loose, sagging skin, wrinkles and age spots. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity.
4. Get the beauty of sleep
Your skin replenishes itself while you sleep. When you don't get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Exercise increases blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to the skin. Aim to be physically active 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. Take a nice long walk walk or light jog after dinner. Remember to stay hydrated.
Researchers at the McMaster University in Ontario found that after age 40, the men and women who exercised frequently had markedly thinner, healthier stratum corneums and thicker dermis layers in their skin. Their skin was much closer in composition to that of the 20- and 30-year-olds than to that of others of their age, even if they were past age 65.
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
1,000 California residents will die of melanoma in 2014
Skin cancer is by far the most common form of cancer in the United States. Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. And one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is also on the rise. The American Cancer Society reported 76,690 new cases of melanoma in the United States in 2013. Eleven percent of those cases were in California, where melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in white residents. Los Angeles County sees about 1,300 new cases of melanoma each year.
The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 1,000 California residents will die of melanoma in 2014. The most startling skin cancer data is the growing incidence of melanoma in young people. In the past 40 years, melanoma in people aged 18 to 39 has grown by 800 percent among women and 400 percent among men.
It is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25 to 30 and is second only to breast cancer in women ages 30 to 34.
Yet, while the threat of lung cancer has helped steer people away from cigarettes, almost no progress has been shown in the risky behaviors that lead to skin cancer. Incidence of sunburn and indoor tanning have remained the same for over a decade.
Diary of a Indoor Tanner
Sarah Tiefenthaler of Venice, CA was one of those frequent indoor tanners. When she started going indoor tanning as a high school student in Tehachapi, California, it was just for special events like prom.
Her mom signed a permission slip to allow her to tan before she was 18. By the time she moved to Los Angeles for college, she was hooked. “In college it got out of hand,” Tiefenthaler said. “I got those unlimited monthly packages and kept going to get my money’s worth. I would go every other day. It was very relaxing and I liked the way my skin looked.”
Tiefenthaler was stepping out of a tanning bed when she first noticed something odd on her skin right below her bust. She saw a dermatologist who biopsied the lesion and determined that it was basal cell carcinoma, a lesser form of skin cancer. She was able to treat the area with an ointment. A year later, when Tiefenthaler was 26, she had a spot on her thigh biopsied.
This time it was melanoma. “I never thought I would be diagnosed at 26 with something life threatening,” she said. “I really believe that both sites came from my tanning bed usage. I went so frequently, and both were in spots where you wouldn’t normally get sun exposure, even in a bathing suit.” Luckily, the melanoma was still in its early stages and doctors were able to remove it through surgery.
She now has a five-inch scar along her upper thigh.
Tiefenthaler hasn’t had any skin cancer scares since 2010. She also hasn’t set foot in a tanning salon since then.
“I immediately stopped tanning and I will never go again,” she said. “And I am always really insistent on my loved ones about staying out of tanning beds.”
Source: American Cancer Society, EasyReaderNews
Are you thinking about downloading that $5 smartphone app that claims to have the most advanced algorithm for analyzing skin lesions from a photo? Well, think again. A new study suggests that these apps are not very good at determining which ones are cancerous.
Marketed As Educational Only
The apps are marketed as educational only and so aren't covered as medical devices under the Food and Drug Administration's regulations. But that may not stop some people from relying on the inexpensive tools instead of going to see a dermatologist, researchers said - which could mean slower diagnosis of potentially dangerous lesions.
"There's no substitute, at this point, for a complete skin exam performed by an expert dermatologist for picking up melanoma as well as other skin cancers," said Dr. Karen Edison, a dermatologist from University of Missouri in Columbia who wasn't involved in the new study. “For example, even if an app makes a correct diagnosis of melanoma, that doesn't necessarily help if the patient doesn't know where to get a biopsy or doesn't have insurance to pay for it”, Edison said. "We're all for technology, but we need to keep it in perspective, and make it a tool."
Three of those apps, which cost under $5 to own, use algorithms to determine whether a lesion is likely to be cancerous or not. The fourth sends images to a certified dermatologist for evaluation, at a price of $5 per lesion.
Of the three algorithm-based apps, the most accurate still missed 18 of the 60 melanomas, mistakenly classifying them as lower-risk, Dr. Laura Ferris from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania and her colleagues reported Wednesday in JAMA Dermatology. The dermatologist consultation app did better than the others, misdiagnosing just one out of 53 evaluable images of cancerous lesions.
All but one of the apps classified more than half of the benign, non-cancerous lesions as problematic. The researchers said they chose not to release the commercial names of the apps evaluated because their purpose was to determine the accuracy of this type of tool, in general.
In conclusion, don't waste your money on these apps. No technology can beat in-person exams to check for skin cancer. Early detection is the key.
Source: JAMA Dermatology
A new study finds that men in these groups are far more likely than women to ignore warnings to protect themselves against sunshine by wearing sunscreen or a hat. Recently, the British Journal of Dermatology published research based of 2,215 French people detailing what steps they took to reduce their risk for the sun.
Men vs. Women
The research found that men under 20 and over 64 are the least likely to heed advice about the need to minimize the harmful effects of UV radiation from sunlight. The same two groups of men also know the least about how to protect themselves from the risk they run from getting burned skin.
On the other hand, women aged between 20 and 64 displayed the most understanding of how the sun’s rays could damage their skin and were most likely to use high-factor sunscreen and to wear protective clothing. It is already known that death rates from malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are 70% higher in men than women.
Although similar numbers of both sexes develop it – 6,200 men and 6,600 women a year – far more men (1,300) than women (900) die. Death rates are rising among men, but stable among women. Death have risen by 185% among men and 55% among women over the last 40 years, mainly as a result of the increased popularity of tanned skin, beach holidays and tanning salons.
Since this research was done in France, it may not be possible to draw all-embracing conclusions from it. Regardless, this research does show that awareness of how to prevent skin cancer is low and that everyone should be “sun-smart”by wearing sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and to seek the shade, especially in the afternoon hours where the sun is most strong.
Illinois has joined Vermont, California, Oregon, Nevada and Texas by passing legislation that prohibits minors under the age of 18 from indoor tanning. Following similar ordinances recently put in place in Springfield and Chicago, this law is based on significant scientific evidence that links indoor tanning to increased risk of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. The law was passed late last year and went in effect Jan 2014.
“The American Academy of Dermatology Association is proud to have supported this legislation and commends the state of Illinois for joining the fight against skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” said board-certified dermatologist Dirk M. Elston, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. “The state’s willingness to follow the examples set by the cities of Springfield and Chicago, exemplifies a true commitment to protecting teens from the dangers of indoor tanning.”
The Illinois House and Senate passed this legislation shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed stricter regulations on indoor tanning beds, as well as a strong recommendation against the use of tanning beds by minors under the age of 18.
The possible 7th State
In February of 2014, a measure to block children under 16 from using tanning salons is one step closer to becoming law in Indiana. House members approved the proposal 69-23. The Senate passed the bill in January 30-17. The bill needs to be approved by the Governor of Indiana before it will become a law.
More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime and more than 2,480 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in Illinois in 2013. Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning, and the risk increases with each use.