Menopause and Skin Cancer: Taking Care of the Skin You’re In
How did you spend the lazy days of summer in your youth? Many of us seeking the perfect 10 of a tan, slathered on baby oil (gasp!) and hit the sun in the hottest part of the day. After all, had to look good in those spaghetti strap dresses. Halter top anyone!
These days, sitting poolside means covering up with hats, liberally applying SPF 40, then heading straight for the shade, because now we understand how harmful ultraviolet light can be for our skin. So, just as we sail into menopause, those rays we soaked up as teens and 20-somethings are coming home to roost.
Spot Skin Cancer
According to the Mayo Clinic, one study shows that skin cancer has increased eight-fold overall in middle-aged women since 1970, with women nearing 50 showing a marked increase in melanoma. That information has prompted studies of a menopausal hormonal connection to this disease, with mixed results.
Nobody knows your body better than you do so self-checking is the first line of defense in early detection. Those heavy doses of sunlight found every inch of skin, so check secret hiding places like behind your ears and knees, as well as between your toes. Sneak a peek while applying polish! Even technology is getting in on the act with teledermoscopy software for mobile devices. Zoom, point, shoot and text suspicious spot shots to your dermatologist!
Learn Your ABC’s
The Skin Cancer Foundation lists three basic types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Skin growths multiply as you age, but most are what dermatologist call ‘barnacles.’ They’re ugly, but harmless. How do you spot the difference?
American Cancer Society’s ABC’s of Skin Cancer
- Asymmetry—unequal halves
- Diameter—1/4 inch or larger
- Evolving—bleeding, itching, crusting
If you haven’t done so already, make sure to find a good dermatologist. The National Institute of Health says physicians can identify malignant skin cancers right off the bat, making twice-yearly trips to the dermatologist a must-do in cancer prevention. One 15-minute office visit and quick visual scan could save your life!
Meanwhile,here’s how you can take some positive steps:
- Women who take aspirin daily have a 21% lower rate of melanoma than those who don’t because of a positive chemical effect on the body
- The American Institute for Cancer Research says your morning Joe contains powerful antioxidants in fighting cancer. Turns out that lingering over that second cup in the morning is good for you. Coffee has a chemical compound that binds with the beans when they’re roasted, creating a powerful anti-oxidant immune boost. Not a bad way to start the day!
- What you eat my help protect you against skin cancer. The University of Maryland Medical Center specifically recommends:
- Broccoli, celery and onions (contain flavonoids which fight inflammation)
- Tomatoes, apples, cherries and grapes (resveratrol found in the skin is the key)
- Turmeric spice (anti-oxidant)
Finally, Omega 3 in fatty fish may be a tumor fighter, according to numerous university studies, because it slows the progression of skin cancer and reduces inflammation—a contributing factor in many types of cancer.
Last but certainly not least—always use a powerful sunscreen with the ingredient avobenzone, which has been proven to absorb the full spectrum of ultraviolet rays. Your sunscreen should have an SPF15 or greater, which filters out 93% of those harmful rays. Studies show that solar radiation can suppress your immune system, giving skin cancer room to grow, so be sure to make applying sunscreen part of your morning routine.
I wish I knew then what I know now! The prettiest skin is the healthiest skin! My sunscreen and I are best friends now. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure, particularly when you realize that skin is your largest organ and deserves a second look. Here’s looking at you, kid!
Suffering in Silence is Out! Reaching Out is In!