The late Margaret Thatcher, who served as Britain’s Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, once said that, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” This also includes when it comes to your health, such as battling cancer, a potentially deadly disease that stems from abnormal cell growth.
There are as many types of cancer as there are body parts, but the most common is skin cancer. It appears when your body is unable to repair DNA damage to the cells making up your skin, which occurs mostly from ultraviolet rays from either the sun or tanning beds.
What to Look For and Where to Look For It
This damage triggers mutations and defects that cause skin cells to multiply so rapidly that they form tumors which are almost always malignant. The new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year outnumber the occurrences of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer combined.
An estimated 20% of Americans will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. The trick to overcoming this disease, as with so many other health problems, is early prevention. While many people think to look on their arms, back, and neck, here are five other places you should watch out for early signs of the disease.
- Behind Ears – Of the most common places to find basal cell skin cancer, the area behind the ear ranks in the top three. It is the second most common area of the ear for the disease to occur. Checking is easy by grabbing a mirror or a trusted friend or family member.
- Between the Cheeks – Not the cheeks on your face, but the buttocks. A wide range of skin cancers can appear here, so use the two mirror approach to check. Stand with your back to a full-length mirror and use a hand mirror to look behind you for all symptoms, including unusual rashes.
- Mucous Membranes – Keep an eye on your lips, the inside of your mouth, your nasal passages, and genital tissue. Both squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma can appear in these areas, although melanoma is more common with lower amounts of pigment in skin.
- Between the Toes – You should look between your toes on a regular basis, even if it’s just to clean between them during a bath or a shower. Another option is to get pedicures on a regular basis by the same person so you have a second set of eyes to look for dark spots, lesions, or other signs of skin cancer.
- Feet and Hands – In addition to the toes, signs can also appear on the soles of your feet. They could also appear on the palms of your hands and in your nail beds. As with regular pedicures, getting regular manicures – whether by yourself or a professional, can more quickly alert you to abnormalities.
Getting Enough Vitamin D while Avoiding Skin Cancer
Vitamin D is a vital part of a healthy immune system, and the best source of it is ultraviolet light, such as the rays of the sun or the light from inside a tanning bed. Because ultraviolet light is the most likely source of skin cancer, avoiding it can create a Vitamin D deficiency.
Some research, as reported by the Skin Cancer Foundation, claims that unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays can prevent certain times of cancer, because it gives the body a boost of Vitamin D. But there are safer ways to get the Vitamin D you need to stay healthy without the risk of skin cancer.
Foods like fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, fortified cow’s milk and other dairy products, fortified orange juice, egg yolks, fortified cereals, and beef liver are all chock full of Vitamin D. However another safe and healthy way to get this vital nutrient is through the use of supplements.
The Importance of ‘Choosing the Right Supplement
While supplements are no substitute for a healthy diet, they can make up the difference for any nutrients that your diet lacks. For example, you may suffer a medical condition like a food allergy or lactose intolerance that prevents you from eating a well balanced diet.
The supplement you select should be approved by doctors and employs the use of third party testing to verify the ingredients. You might also look for supplements that offer added boosts of antioxidants, like glutathione which help fight free radicals, damaged cells behind diseases that occur more frequently as we age.
Bill Lawrence spent the first twelve years of his career in the pharmaceutical industry. After watching one product after another treat the mere symptoms of health problems, he left to create his own site, www.healthtraits.org, dedicated to providing answers, support, and most importantly — the results of taking vitamins and antioxidants, like glutathione. Bill holds a BSC from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.