It was a long, cold winter so we’re all ready for warm weather but with that comes the harmful effects from the sun. I’d like to share a pearl with you, especially if you are fair-skinned and need to limit your sun exposure.
This blog topic was prompted from a phone call I received this week from a family member who just moved. After living her entire life in the northeast, she just relocated to Arizona. Now that’s a major adjustment!
“The sun beats down on my arm while I’m driving,” she said. “The ladies here wear thin blouses over their tops to cover their arm.”
I told her my trick about that and I’ll share it in just a moment.
First, here’s a few important facts about skin cancer. Did you know that it is the most common form of cancer in the United States? The CDC statistics show that roughly 61,000 people were diagnosed and 9,000 people died from melanoma of the skin in 2010 and that there were more men than women in both categories.
The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. It’s named for it’s location in the lowest layer of the epidermis – the basal cell layer. They are particularly common around the head and neck because of sun exposure and, although previously more common in older people, they are striking more younger people now as well. Although they grow slowly, they can invade nearby tissues or structures such as bone.
Squamous cell carcinoma is less common and occurs in the outer layer of the skin. Again, they tend to grow on sun-exposed areas of the face and neck. These cancers can grow deeper and spread.
Here’s another skin lesion that is common: actinic keratosis. Even though their diagnosis isn’t as scary as one of the above, they remind us why a visit to a dermatologist, internist, or family practitioner is so important if we have abnormal skin lesions. These can turn into cancer (such as squamous cell) if left untreated. They are small, rough, raised areas found in areas exposed to sunlight. They can start as flat, scaly spots and can become hard or wart-like. I often liken them to being ‘crusty.’
One of the common methods of removing actinic keratosis is by freezing (cryotherapy). Other methods are certain skin creams which make you look terrible before you look better!
There is so much more to talk about when it comes to skin cancers but, as we all know, it’s prevention that’s key. Don’t forget the brimmed sun hat and high SPF sunscreen this summer.
So, getting back to my pearl. My relocated family member is correct to worry about her left arm’s sun exposure while driving. A study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology supported the theory that automobile drivers in the US - exposed to more ultraviolet radiation through the driver’s side window - had more skin cancers on the left side than the right.
Since I was a Floridian, I stumbled on this trick a few years ago. I had never heard of it before; not from a doctor, a magazine, or a friend. Of course, I didn’t know it before having multiple precancerous lesions removed from my left arm. Especially in the hot summer months when I don’t want to wear long sleeves, I wear a ‘sleeve’ while driving. It’s always in my car and I just slide it up my arm.
I can’t attest to any ‘brand’ but where I find them is on Amazon.com. I am gifting my family member a set for her upcoming birthday. After all, Arizona is a sunny state! Here’s a link which will get you to the ‘area’ of arm sleeves. There are lots to choose from!
I hope you enjoyed my bi-monthly health blog. Feel free to leave comments below after the recipe and sign up on the right sidebar for new posts to my blog.
For more health pearls, check out my book “Younger Next Decade” on this website. And my new novel, Silent Fear: a Medical Mystery, is in the top 1% of Amazon’s bestseller’s in the Kindle’s store (and in the top handful of mystery>thriller>suspense>medical). Check it out!
Recipe: Oven-baked Salmon from the Food Network Kitchen
12 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Toasted Almond Parsley Salsa, for serving
Baked squash, for serving, optional
Toasted Almond Parsley Salad:
1 shallot, 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar, Coarse grain salt, 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1/2 cup toasted almonds, Extra-virgin olive oil
Directions - Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on a non-stick baking sheet or in a non-stick pan with an oven-proof handle. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with the Toasted Almond Parsley Salad and squash, if desired.
Toasted Almond Parsley Salad:
Mince the shallot and add to a small bowl. Pour the vinegar over the shallots and add a pinch of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Roughly chop the capers, parsley and almonds and add to the shallots. Add the olive oil, tasting as you go. Mix again and adjust the seasonings.
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