Skin Cancer is the Most Commonly Diagnosed Cancer in Canada
Sunscreen (also known as sunblock) is a lotion, spray or other topical product that helps protect the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and which reduces sunburn and other skin damage, ultimately leading to a lower risk of skin cancer.
The best sunscreens protect against both UVB (ultraviolet radiation with wavelength between 290 and 320 nanometres), which can cause sunburn, and UVA (between 320 and 400 nanometres), which damages the skin with more long-term effects, such as premature skin aging.
Most sunscreens work by containing either an organic chemical compound that absorbs ultraviolet light (such as oxybenzone) or an opaque material that reflects light (such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide), or a combination of both.
Typically, absorptive materials are referred to as chemical blocks, whereas opaque materials are mineral or physical blocks.
Warm weather means beach vacations and pool-dipping for many of us. It also signals a season of slathering on sunscreen to avoid getting burned. Someday, those products could be enhanced with lignin, a natural material in plants and a major waste product of the paper industry. Scientists report their findings on what kind of lignin works well for this purpose in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
Most sunscreen products on the market today contain synthetic compounds that help prevent ultraviolet rays from damaging skin. But consumers are searching for better product performance that comes from natural sources to protect themselves from sun damage. As a step toward meeting this demand, scientists have added compounds from a variety of sources, including green coffee, soy and papaya to sunscreens. Shiping Zhu, Xueqing Qiu and colleagues wanted to test different kinds of lignin for their potential as an enhancer.
The researchers showed that out of five types of lignin tested, organosolv lignin improved the sun protection factor (SPF) of sunblock the most. Sunscreen containing just one percent of this compound had double the lotion’s original SPF — it went from 15 to 30. A lotion with 10 percent organosolv lignin increased SPF even further, from 15 to almost 92, but excessive amounts of hydrophilic lignin such as lignosulfonate caused the product to start separating. More work is needed, but the results represent a promising first step toward the development of lignin-containing sunscreen, say the researchers. via sciencedaily.com
Never underestimate the power of community
The Save Your Skin Foundation was created by North Vancouver resident Kathy Barnard and her friends, family, and colleagues. Kathy was diagnosed with stage 4 malignant melanoma in 2003, and though her treatments are finished, she continues to fight melanoma. Save Your Skin’s immediate goals are to raise awareness of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, to provide melanoma patients with access to information about trial drugs, emotional and financial support, and to provide support to the new wave of melanoma survivors that is beginning to emerge due to the success of trial treatments.
The foundation began as the dream of Kathy’s sister, Rose. As Rose was running through the trails of North Vancouver, reflecting on the struggles her family had gone through finding an effective treatment for Kathleen, she decided to take action. Save Your Skin strives to be a place of information, hope and support in an otherwise barren internet landscape, so other families don’t have the same discouraging experience as Kathy’s.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body and its health is the easiest to monitor.
We can see and feel our skin, so we tend to be more familiar with the health of our skin than our other organs. We know when our skin is dry and when it starts to show signs of aging. The downside with our familiarity with our skin is that we tend to take it for granted, and we do not get particularly concerned when it is under distress. However, the body is an integrated system, in which our skin plays an important role; our tendency to underestimate the importance of healthy skin can be detrimental to our health.
The Sun and Your Skin
One of the goals of the Save Your Skin foundation is to increase awareness of skin cancer, and make information about it more available. The health benefits of vitamin D for our skin, and the potentially damaging consequences of sunscreens, are currently a matter of debate. This debate is an important one, which will lead to a better understanding of how we can best protect our skin and our health.
Contributing factors to melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers include:
- unprotected and/or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
- a fair complexion
- the tendency to freckle
- occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium
- some medications, such as immunosuppressants
- family history of skin cancers
- multiple or atypical moles
- severe sunburns, especially as a child
As you would assume, the rates of skin cancer are highest in tropical countries like Australia, and even the southern United States. However, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada, a nation not known for having a warm climate. It has become imperative that Canadians become aware of the potential dangers of sun exposure, and take precautions that will preserve an often undervalued part of our body, and potentially save lives.
If you have any concerns about your skin and possible skin cancer, contact your physician immediately.