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Healthy Strategies to Lessen Your Risk of Skin Cancer

It’s time to get savvy about the sun and your skin.

The sun plays a very important role in our lives. It helps regulate our sleep patterns and cycles, triggers Vitamin D synthesis, lowers cholesterol and can even help us feel happier. But there’s also a dark side to sun exposure… and that includes age spots, wrinkles, or worse –– skin cancer.

While no one wants to develop skin cancer, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go from being a sun worshiper to a Heliophobiac. So we’ve put together some helpful information and things you can do to help reduce your risk of getting skin cancer. First, let’s make sure you know the most common associated risk factors for skin cancer. These include:

  • Sun exposure
  • Artificial UV light exposure (ie: tanning beds)
  • Having a fair complexion:
    • Fair/light skin that easily burns or gets freckles, doesn’t tan
    • Blue or green eyes
    • Blonde or red hair
  • Actinic keratosis
  • Radiation treatment
  • Weakened immune system
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Arsenic exposure

As we previously mentioned, you don’t need to completely avoid the sun at all costs. In fact, there are recent studies that suggest that doing so can actually be harmful to your health. Damned if ya do, and damned if you don’t, right?? But just like most things, moderation is really key. So here’s what we can do to give our bodies a natural boost and reduce our risk.

Lather up

Use a UVA/UVB broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 every single day. If you know you’re going to be outside for a longer period of time, consider using a waterproof sunscreen with at least an SPF 30. You should always re-apply your sunscreen after every two hours that you’re outside. If you go swimming or do any kind of activity/exercise that causes you to sweat, you should definitely re-apply right afterward.

Get a little shady

Avoiding the sun altogether between the times of 10 AM and 4 PM can have a big impact on helping you avoid the sun’s most dangerous rays. That timeframe is when the sun has the strongest rays, making it more likely for your skin to burn. Also, consider wearing clothing and accessories that offer sun protection. Shirts with sleeves, pants, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats can provide additional protection during times of strong or extended sun exposure. 

Pass the salad, please

Many studies have also shown a correlation between what you eat (or don’t) and your risk for skin cancer. Eating fruits and vegetables has been proven to provide protection because they have important antioxidants that our bodies require to remain healthy. Antioxidants help fight the production of free radicals which can damage healthy skin cells.

Many fruits and veggies also have carotenoids which are colorful pigments that are especially protective. Basically, these act like a natural sunblock because when you eat carotenoids, they deposit into your skin, where they provide protection against sunburns and harmful skin damage.

Some of the best fruit and veggie sources of carotenoids include:

  • Eggs
  • Spirulina
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Leafy dark green vegetables
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Collard greens
  • Yellow-orange fruits and vegetables
    • Apricots
    • Bell peppers
    • Cantaloupe
    • Carrots
    • Pumpkin
    • Squash
    • Sweet potatoes and yams

Don’t be a hermit

We mentioned it earlier, but we need to explain this a tad further. Our bodies actually need sunlight to make Vitamin D which is essential to our balanced health. Vitamin D production can also help us fend off some types of cancer. This doesn’t mean oil up and go sunbathing for hours on end, all you need is a little bit. Between 5 to 15 minutes of sunshine three times a week is enough to enjoy the Vitamin D boosting benefits of the sun.

Detoxify your kidneys + liver

Our kidneys and liver play crucial roles in filtering toxins, bacteria, and waste. When they aren’t functioning properly, toxins will start to build up in our bodies and wreak havoc on our health. Just like we need to regularly clean out our oil diffuser or humidifier to keep them working properly, think of detoxing our bodies like a routine cleaning.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to order a trendy juice fast program, or bone broth cleansing pack right away. There is no need to starve yourself by any means. If you start to do some Googling on detox, you’ll no doubt come across tons and tons of options and programs that claim to be the hot new thing. All you have to do is just pay attention to what you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. Then monitor what products you’re using in your day to day routine, what are you putting on your skin? What toxins and chemicals can you eliminate from your cleaning product collection? Keeping an eye on these things will help you be more conscious of your toxin exposure, and then you can make decisions on how you want to help your body get more of the essential vitamins, herbs, and minerals that it needs with supplements and natural products.

Want to learn more? Check out these helpful resources on skin cancer awareness and prevention: