Melanoma Awareness

| by Dr. Lynda Torrey, under Wellness

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. . .at least according to the song, although it can be a challenge when it comes to healthy skin care and protection from skin cancer.  What is most important is finding that balance between being a “sun-phobic” individual and a “sun worshiper”.

First, let’s identify the positive aspects of sun exposure, as the rays from the sun are crucial to our existence.  The short UVB wavelengths begin the process of a chemical and metabolic chain reaction, producing vitamin D which promotes bone health.  These wavelengths can also help reverse seasonal affective disorder, better known as SAD, a situation that is usually caused by lack of sunlight.  It is said in holistic therapies that it is important to maintain a regimen of sunlight 15 minutes per day for whole health. 

The negative aspect of too much sun exposure is certainly skin cancer, the most common type of cancer.  The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.  Although melanoma is the least frequent of these, it is the most serious and frequently metastasizes to other organs and parts of the body.  Melanomas are known to present as brown to black lesions or moles that have changed in elevation, size, color or shape.  A change in an old mole, a new mole acquired during adulthood or ulceration, pain, itching or bleeding of any mole warrants a visit to your physician.

Skin cancer prevention tips:

o Avoid the use of tobacco products.  It is believed that tobacco use doubles your susceptibiity to skin cancer.

o Beginning in the early years, reduce over-exposure to UV radiation.

o Avoid prolonged sun exposure during the day and especially between 9 am to 4 pm.

o Wear protective clothing when outdoors.  There are a number of companies that are now selling specific UVA/UVB protective clothing for outdoor enthusiasts.

o Use a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation, reapplying every two hours and after swimming.

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