Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mole Patrol

Our skin comes under that enormous "umbrella" of health.

Some of us grew up in sunny climates and should take some responsibility for our skin, which daily performs an overtime job for our bodies. Remember that even if you feel that you take meticulous care of your skin now, reflect on how you spent your time in your teens and 20's. That is what counts for us "baby boomers."

What follows is the ABCD system for detecting skin abnormalities from the American Cancer Society.

ASYMMETRY: one side looks different from the other.

BORDERS: irregular, notched, scalloped or otherwise indistinct.

COLOR: more than one shade.

DIAMETER: larger than a pencil eraser.

Early detection is the key to describing skin cancer. Make it a habit to scan for suspicious moles every two or three months. Visit your dermatologist annually.

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables -- like watermelon, berries, cooked tomatoes, and peppers -- contain antioxidants that can protect your skin from sun damage. These heighten your body's natural SPF (sun protection factor).

Avoid white bread, white rice, and processed foods made with refined sugar. Reduce the amount of saturated fats you eat every day.

A Swedish study conducted in 2007 linked high blood sugar levels to malignant melanoma.

In a 1995 landmark study at Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, individuals who had been treated for non-melanoma skin cancer managed to slash their risk of developing new precancerous skin growths by 75 percent simply by lowering their intake of saturated fat from 36 percent of their total calories to 20 percent.

We now have clothing with protective sunscreen available to us.

Lastly, slather on generous amounts of "broad-spectrum" sunscreen before you go out -- even on cloudy days.

We Pacific Northwesterners do enjoy the sun when it does appear. But be smart. With the above guidelines in place, we can still enjoy our lovely outdoors and keep our skin safe.

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