What do you think of when someone says ‘summer’? Usually it’s glorious images of searing sunshine, tanned bodies, surf, barbecues and the great outdoors. However healthy and appealing the image, in real life sunshine and long days at the beach can turn out be a death sentence. An overdose of UV rays can lead to skin cancer, and the most frightening skin cancer of all, melanoma.
TOP TIPS FOR LOWERING MELANOMA AND SKIN CANCER RISK
Avoid excessive sun exposure
Cover up with clothing, a hat and sunblock during peak UV times.
Use a sunblock of at least SPF15 that contains physical sunblockers such as titanium or zinc oxide to reduce UVA exposure.
More fruit and veg
Increase fruit and vegetables in your diet to boost antioxidant intake. Have a generous daily serving of yellow or orange and green fruits and vegetables to increase beta-carotene intake.
Keep dietary fats low
Avoid trans fats (listed as hydrogenated fats in ingredients).
Minimise omega-6 fats such as sunflower, safflower, soy and corn oil and margarine.
Increase omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds. Eat oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herrings and tuna three to four times a week.
Keep alcohol intake low
Just four drinks a week could double your risk of melanoma.
Have your vitamin-D levels checked with a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D blood test. If your levels are below 50-80ng/ml, ask your doctor about supplementing with D3. Vitamin D is made in your body in response to sunlight exposure. Exposing unprotected skin for 10 minutes in peak UV times will boost vitamin D levels if they are low. If you are fair skinned, have red or blond hair and blue eyes or have lots of moles or a family history of melanoma, use D3 supplements instead of relying on sun exposure.
IS YOUR MOLE A MELANOMA?
Check your moles regularly and have a regular mole check with your doctor or dermatologist. To decide if your mole is suspicious and needs further medical investigation, use the ABCD rule:
A FOR ASYMMETRY
Moles are usually symmetrical and round. Melanomas often have irregular borders and shapes.
B FOR BORDER
Moles usually have smooth, regular borders. Melanomas often have uneven borders or scalloped edges.
C FOR COLOUR
Moles are usually one colour, often brown. Melanomas are often unusual colours or mixed colours, including reds, blues and white.
D FOR DIAMETER
Melanomas often grow larger than moles, and can easily grow to the size of a pencil eraser.