The Prevention of Skin Cancer

The prevention of skin cancer is a simple activity and you only need to make certain lifestyle changes. Learn more in the following article.
The Prevention of Skin Cancer

Last update: 16 January, 2023

Taking measures to avoid the appearance of diseases is almost as important as the early diagnosis and timely treatment of them. The prevention of skin cancer is very simple and only consists of eliminating as many risk factors as possible.

The appearance of this type of cancer has been associated with various mutations in the cells of the most superficial layer of the skin. Many of these mutations are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is why studies indicate that this is the most important environmental risk factor of all.

It should be taken into account that some risk factors such as smoking depend on lifestyle, so they can be modified. However, others are linked to inheritance, so it’s impossible to eliminate them. In this regard, the disease can’t always be prevented completely, although its probability of occurrence is reduced.

Maintain a healthy diet

A person chopping vegetables.
A balanced diet is always related to good health.

The best way to prevent a large number of diseases is through a healthy and balanced diet. All the nutrients absorbed in the diet will strengthen the immune system and promote the proper functioning of the body.

Multiple organizations associated with cancer have established different measures associated with diet in order to prevent the onset of this disease. In general terms, they recommend maintaining an ideal weight for height and avoiding obesity or excess weight at all ages.

Among the general recommendations of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Research Institute for the prevention of the disease, the following stand out:

  • Limiting the consumption of sugary drinks
  • Eating servings that help maintain a healthy weight
  • Reducing the consumption of processed meats, red meat, and salty foods
  • Increasing your intake of whole grains

Antioxidants in the prevention of skin cancer

Most of the mutations that cause skin cancer are related to the presence of certain compounds called free radicals.

They’re capable of altering the membrane and DNA of skin cells, which favors the appearance of neoplasia. There are many factors capable of generating the appearance of free radicals, among which UV radiation and environmental pollution stand out.

On the other hand, there’s another set of substances called antioxidants, which are capable of preventing the formation of free radicals, and therefore, reducing cell damage. These substances are present in all the layers of the skin, with a greater concentration in the epidermis.

Multiple studies involving animals have shown that antioxidants provided in the diet provide some protection against skin cancer. In this regard, reducing the risk of the appearance of the disease by up to 30% in mice subjected to constant UV radiation has been possible.

Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables

Whenever we talk about a healthy and balanced diet, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is always highlighted, in fact, it’s best to consume at least 2.5 cups a day of these foods. This is because fruits and vegetables contain a large amount of antioxidants.

One of the most well-known antioxidant compounds is vitamin C, which is capable of providing protection against UV radiation and prevents carcinogenesis.

The daily requirements can vary between 75 and 90 milligrams for men and women respectively. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes, melon, and baked potatoes.

Vitamin E is another of the most studied antioxidants in the prevention of the formation of free radicals. It’s very abundant in foods such as soybeans and wheat germ, although it’s also present in certain vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.

Lifestyle and skin cancer prevention

Most causes and risk factors for skin cancer are related to lifestyle, so making small changes can help prevent the disease. The changes to make are very simple and it is never too late to take the appropriate measures.

Choosing a suitable sunscreen

As previously mentioned, the greatest risk factor for developing skin cancer is exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Therefore, selecting and using an appropriate sunscreen can make a difference, greatly reducing the likelihood of developing the disease.

There are two different types of UV radiation, UVA rays and UVB rays, both with the same carcinogenic capacity. Many of the sunscreens that claim to be broad spectrum only provide protection against UVB rays, leaving the skin exposed to the action of UVA rays.

In this regard, it’s vitally important to choose a sunscreen that provides protection against both types of UV radiation, so you should read the label carefully before buying a product. It’s also important to use the product properly, so it should be applied 30 minutes before going out and applied again at least every 2 hours.

Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun

Skin cancer prevention includes avoiding exposure to strong sunlight.
It’s important to protect all skin from the sun, especially pre-existing moles.

The use of sunscreen is one of the most important measures, although it must be combined with other means of protection that are useful to prevent the disease. In general terms, it’s best to avoid the sun between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, as during this time period, its effects are direct and it’s more harmful.

Many times, it’s not possible to avoid exposure to the sun during the mentioned period. However, people can apply certain measures to reduce the effect of UV radiation on the skin, among which the following stand out:

  • Wear clothes that aren’t tight, in dark colors and, if possible, clothes that provide UV protection.
  • Wear hats, caps, and sunglasses to protect the face.
  • Spend time in the shade whenever possible.
  • Avoid tanning beds.

It’s important to note that some chemicals such as paraffin and arsenic can promote the development of skin cancer, so appropriate protection must be used when handling them.

Thus, gloves should be worn even when the label doesn’t call for them. The case of arsenic is a bit more complex, as it can be in water wells, so their use should be avoided.

Give up smoking

Cigarettes are one of the most harmful elements that exist today, increasing the probability of suffering from a large number of pulmonary and systemic diseases. In this regard, quitting smoking can bring multiple health benefits, including the prevention of skin cancer.

Tobacco use has been shown to greatly increase the likelihood of non-melanoma skin cancer, especially squamous cell carcinoma.

However, one study showed that former smokers have a decreased risk of suffering from the disease, becoming very similar to that of people who have never smoked.

Take a regular self-exam

Skin cancer is one of the neoplasms with the best prognosis, as it’s usually diagnosed in the early stages when the disease isn’t as advanced. This is because people notice the injury quickly and go to the medical specialist.

In this regard, it’s best to carry out a complete inspection of the skin at least once a month in order to find any abnormalities.

Anyone can inspect your skin from the comfort of their own home. All you need is a full-length mirror, a hand mirror, and a comb. Ideally, the exam should be done in an orderly manner, from head to toe, parting the hair to look at the scalp and using the hand mirror to look at the back of the body.

It’s never too late to begin the prevention of skin cancer

The prevention of skin cancer is a simple activity and you only need to make certain lifestyle changes. All these changes will be aimed at eliminating risk factors, especially exposure to UV radiation and the production of free radicals.

Prevention methods are very simple and can be applied by anyone regardless of age or some other biological factor.

In addition to the use of sunscreen, one of the most important measures is to inspect the skin on a regular basis. This will make it possible to detect a lesion early on and prevent the advance of the disease. The presence of any skin lesion shouldn’t be underestimated and immediate medical attention should be sought.

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