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Keeping your lips healthy is important year-round. We often take our lips for granted even though they play a crucial role in our speech and for identifying different types of food.
Lip cancer is a malignant tumor, or neoplasm, that originates in the surface layer cells in the upper or lower lip. Nine out of ten cases of lip cancer are diagnosed in people over age 45. As the cells in our lips get older, they lose some of its ability to repair itself. This breakdown in the repair system combined with damaging UV rays from sunlight allows for the uncontrolled growth of cells.
If a part of the lip is affected by cancer and must be removed by surgery, there will be significant changes to one’s eating ability and speech function. Men are at a greater risk for lip cancer than women, sometimes two to three times more likely. Also, fair-skinned people are more likely to develop lip cancer than those with dark skin.
Here are some tips for keeping your lips healthy, soft, and sun safe.
Use Lip Balm to Moisturize and Protect
Since your lips are exposed to the sun every day, they are highly susceptible to disfiguring and to developing skin cancer. Use lip balm or lipstick with a SPF 15 or higher. Keep in mind that your lower lip receives the most direct sunlight.
Much like sunscreen use recommendations, remember to reapply lip protection every two hours. Reapply more often if you have been eating or drinking.
Unlike the rest of your skin, lips do not contain oil glands and therefore tend to dry out and become chapped easily. Drink lots of water to hydrate your lips and avoiding licking them, which actually saps moisture.
For years, many have expressed privacy concerns over the use of body scanners at airports. However, the technology that peeks underneath our clothing has great potential for looking underneath our skin to diagnose cancer at the earliest and most treatable stages.
X-ray vs. T-rays
The most common types of airport body scanners either use X-ray or Terahertz rays (T-rays). In late 2012, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) quietly began removing X-ray based body scanners and replacing them with Terahertz based ones. Terahertz scanners, or millimeter-wave scanners, are non-ionizing and much safer than X-rays.
T-rays have the ability to look through human skin and tissue. Since it is non-ionizing, T-rays do not have enough energy to remove electrons from molecules, which means they won’t mutate our cells. Therefore, they can be harmlessly focused into our body to capture biochemical signatures of events like the start of cancer.
"We can take an image of the suspected area on the skin surface and under the skin surface at different depths to see if there is anything that looks totally different under the normal tissue," explains Dr. Anis Rahman, the chief technology officer of Applied Research and Photonics.
Detecting Malignant Melanoma
Although much more research needs to be done, T-rays show a lot of promise. The technology may be especially helpful in detecting early stages of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of cancer that starts in the deepest part of the outer layer of the skin that occurs long before people can see mole symptoms on the visible part of the skin.
Over 76,500 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2013 in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.
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!
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.
Although the FDA says there isn’t enough evidence to suggest products containing Vitamin A or its derivatives are harmful, Canadian health authorities and groups such as the EWG (Environmental Working Group) are concerned that the additives increase sun sensitivity. In particular, they have proposed sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate, a Vitamin A derivative, to carry a warning saying they can increase the possibility of sunburn for up to a week.
Furthermore, Canadian health authorities go on to say to “please limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterwards.”The sunscreen industry adds Vitamin A to beach and sport sunscreens, daily face sunscreens, and SPF-rate makeup products and lip balms. Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant that is believed to slow skin aging and studies of Vitamin A’s carcinogenic properties raised the possibility that is may speed the growth of tumors on the skin when exposed to sunlight.
Despite evidence that Vitamin A can trigger carcinogenic activity, the FDA has delay taking action on restricting retinly palmitate in sunscreens in favor of ordering additional studies. Thus, regulatory action may be postponed indefinitely.
Be safer than sorry - take EWG’s advice and “avoid sunscreen and skin products with retinyl palmitate until the industry can prove it is safe for sun-exposed skin.”
Spray-on sunscreen is quite convenient but inhaling its questionable chemicals is a health risk. The chemicals used in rub-in sunscreen for years and years are still not yet fully understood, so why inhale them? Furthermore, spray-on sunscreens also make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot, thus leaving bare skin exposed to harmful UV rays.
According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), the two major types of sunscreen available in the U.S. are "chemical" and "mineral" sunscreens. “Chemical” sunscreens are more common, and its active ingredients such as PABA or PARSOL 1789 and oxybenzone penetrate into the bloodstream and mimic the body’s natural hormones and may confuse the body's Endochrine system, which regulates our mood, growth and development, metabolism, and reproductive processes.
"Mineral" sunscreens are considered somewhat safer, as their active ingredients are from natural elements such as zinc or titanium. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide strong sun protection with few health concerns, and don't break down in the sun. Thus, EWG recommends to sticking with "mineral" sunscreens while taking other precautions such as looking for shade, wearing protective clothing and eyewear, and avoiding the noontime sun.
EWG recommends avoiding spray-on sunscreens entirely. "These ingredients are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs." Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens, which are greatest among children.
Here a few examples of sunscreens recommended by the EWG:
Click here to see the complete list of sunscreens that meet EWG's criteria.
June 21, 2013 marks the first official day of summer and this year’s summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The summer solstice marks the point of the year where the northern hemisphere is tilted most towards the sun, thus giving us longer days. For example, according to timeanddate.com, there will be over 14 hours and 25 minutes of sunlight in Los Angeles today.
With longer days and warmer weather, it’s a great time to go outside and take advantage of all the extra sunlight. But don’t forget that sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time you are in the sun. According to the UCLA Skin Research Department, 78% of all sun damage occurred in a lifetime is from incidental exposure from everyday activities.
This means you are putting your skin at risk every time you walk to your car, wait outside for the bus, walk your dog, etc. So be sure to generously apply SPF 30+ sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading out, wear a hat, and wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection to protect not just your eyes, but your sensitive eyelids too.
Do: Wash your face and moisturize at bedtime
The skin on your face is one of the dirtiest parts on your body from being unintentionally touched all day long. Washing your face every will get rid of dirt and free radicals that can clog pores. Moisturizing will aid in skin repair and healing that occurs while you sleep.
Don’t: Use bar soap to wash your face
The binders in bar soap have a high pH balance, making it too drying for most skin types. Thus, bar soap immediately strips your skin of all its water, instantly creating dead skin cell buildup. In general, bar soap should never touch the skin from the neck down. Instead, look for mild, sulfate free, low foaming gel cleansers. Avoid high foaming cleansers.
Do: Exfoliate your skin
Exfoliating both your face and body weekly helps get rid of the dead top layers of skin that give us a dull complexion. Also, moisturizers will better penetrate your skin since the dead, flaky layer is scrubbed away. Some say the best time to exfoliate is in the morning, after your skin has repaired itself overnight. Here are some great tools for exfoliation: Facial scrub – gentle salt or sugar based one that leaves your skin feeling ‘dewy’. Avoid alcohol based ones. Basic washcloth – put a dab of cleanser on a damp washcloth and massage your skin in a circular motion. For 30 seconds. Rise off with lukewarm water. Retinoids – removes the top layer of dead skin cells while generation collagen, the skin’s structural fiber. Most skincare experts consider retinoids to be a miracle skin saver. However, retinoids are not recommended for women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding.
Don’t: Overcleanse your skin
When you overcleanse your skin, you strip out the essential oils and water that keep skin healthy and balanced. If your skin feels taut and tight after cleansing, then it is a sign that your skin is crying out for moisture and that you are using a cleanser that is too harsh for your skin. Some effects of overcleansing are: Rashes – dry, red, flakey, irritated skin that may accelerate aging Adult acne – due to overactive oil glands triggered by a panic response
Do: Wear sunscreen
The number one cause of wrinkles is sun damage, so wear sunscreen with at least a SPF of 30. One trick is to purchase moisturizer with sunscreen for the day and one without sunscreen for the night. The ingredients in sunscreen are not mean to be used 24/7 and can aggravate your skin. Also, there is no cure for melanoma skin cancer, only prevention by wearing sunscreen.
Don’t: Skip wearing sunscreen on cloudy and winter days The sun emits two types of ultraviolet rays – UVA and UVB. UVB rays, which cause your skin to get tan or sunburn, are less strong in the winter than in the summer. However, UVA rays, which cause premature skin again and skin cancer, are equally strong from summer to winter. Even on a cloudy day, you are still getting UV damage if you do not wear sunscreen.
Do: Moisturize your skin
Your skin needs water to keep skin cells hydrated and healthy. Lack of water will cause skin cells to die prematurely, resulting in dead skin cell build up and clogged pores
Don’t: Substitute drinking water for using a skin moisturizer
Although drinking plenty of water has multiple benefits for your body such as increasing brain function, maintaining energy levels, and aids in weight loss and digestion, it is the least efficient and effective way to hydrate your skin.
We hope you all have a great Memorial Day and get to spend it with friends and family. Be sure to take a break from the BBQ today at 3 P.M. for a National Moment of Remembrance - a moment of silence to remember all the brave men and women who served and gave up their lives for our country.
Today marks the unofficial start of Summer and the weather here in Southern California is forecasted to not disappoint. So, be sure to bring a hat and wear plenty of sunscreen if you are hitting the beach or spending the day barbecuing in the backyard.
Here are several interesting facts about Memorial Day.