If the temperatures haven’t warmed up yet in your part of the country, they will be soon. That means more time spent outdoors. And along with it rising concerns about skin cancer.
It’s true, chronic overexposure to UV light raises your risk of skin cancer. But shunning the sun is not the answer. In fact, far too many folks in this country are low in the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D. And if you’re a senior, you’re even more at risk for a D deficiency.
Sensible, daily sun exposure is the key. Depending on where you live, you should be aiming for 15 to 20 minutes a day in the sunshine. And without sunscreen. Then head for the shade or put on a wide-brimmed hat and a try a safer sunscreen such as a mineral based product which contains zinc or titanium.
But even with sensible exposure, you’re not immune from developing skin cancer. Frequent x-rays, scars or burns and chemical exposure could raise your risk too.
Skin cancer risk rises with age
Skin cancer often sneaks up on folks. In fact, it can go unnoticed for years, growing slowly. That freckle on your arm could turn into a small mole without you even noticing. Or a lifelong mole may shift in size and color, but still be overlooked.
Your risk for skin cancer goes up with age. And just as troubling, it becomes tougher to treat, as we get older.
For years we had no idea why this was the case. But some groundbreaking research a few years ago gave us a major clue. And it may have handed us a solution too.
More on that solution in a moment. But first let’s take a quick look at the breakthrough study.
Researchers recruited two groups of volunteers. The first group were younger folks between the ages of 25 and 35. The second group were all 55 to 65 years old.
Skin samples taken from the volunteers revealed something startling.
Older skin lacks high levels of skin-cancer fighting protein
There was FAR more of a certain protein called beta-catenin in the skin of the younger volunteers. And that’s critical because bena-catenin helps block melanoma cells.
Without enough of this important protein in your skin there’s nothing standing in the way of skin cancer spreading. And this, experts say, could be the reason that the typical mainstream medicine approach to tackling skin cancer becomes less and less effective with age.
But it revealed, according to the researchers, a potential solution for battling the problem too. And it’s something we’ve talked about here in Healthier Talk before.
Glutathione is an antioxidant found in every single cell in your body. It plays such a critical role in building and repairing our DNA, and preventing damage to our cells, that it’s often called the “mother” of all antioxidants.
NAC may keep melanoma cells from spreading
Researchers theorized that boosting this powerful free-radical fighter could turn the tables on those stubborn melanoma cells in older folks. And to test that out, they turned to a natural option, the amino acid N-acetylcysteine, or NAC.
Your body converts NAC into glutathione in the body. And in lab experiments, the NAC indeed killed off the melanoma cells from older folks.
The mystery is still being unraveled. But this was an important piece of the puzzle. And while more research us underway, we already know that NAC is a safe natural remedy and a powerful immune builder. And antioxidants are natural cancer fighters.
If you want to try NAC you can find it online, and in stores that carry nutritional supplements.
Since melanoma is often overlooked, be sure to keep a close eye on your skin. And remember, serious sunburns in your youth, pale skin and light hair all put you at a higher risk for skin cancer. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, or unexpected changes, make an appointment to see your doctor right away.