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Skin Cancer and what you need to know.

Skin Cancer and what you need to know.
Skin cancer accounts for most malignancies across the globe. They are primarily divided into melanoma and nonmelanoma skin malignancies. Nonmelanoma skin cancer includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. .
One in every three cancers diagnosed in the world is a skin cancer.

There were more than 320,000 cases of skin cancer globally in 2020, the most recent figures available from the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland, with over 13,000 new cases diagnosed every year. The National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) expects this number to double by 2040.

Skin cancer is a disease of skin cells. Nine out of every 10 cases are caused by UV rays from the sun or sunbeds. Over exposure to UV rays, which leads to tanning, redness or burning of the skin, causes damage to skin cells. While much of this damage is repaired some remains and can lead to skin cancer later in life

You need to use protection even indoors and behind the wheel of the car, as UVA penetrates through glass .

The phrase 'high SPF' sounds ­reassuring, but it may give a false sense of security as a product with this factor only refers to protection against UVB rays, which is not quite enough. So this typically means that you might stay out in the sun for longer as the perception is that you are not burning. In the meantime UVA travels like a X-ray and damages deeper in to the skin. UVA is the primary radiation used in tanning beds. It causes almost all forms of skin ageing , including wrinkles. UVA damages the collagen and elastin in the skin and also generates free radicals.


What does ‘SPF’ mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, this is a score-like system used to describe the strength of a product’s ability to protect against sunburn. SPF is calculated by working out how long it takes for an individual to get sunburn whilst wearing sunscreen, divided by the time taken for an individual to burn without sunscreen. Put simply, this means an SPF of 30 allows an individual to spend 30 times longer in the sun without burning, compared to wearing no sunscreen at all.

Which UV sunscreen filter should you choose?

Mineral Sunscreen Filters: Also known as physical filters, sit on top of skin and block UV rays like a shield. Titanium Dioxide is a natural mineral filter found in all our 100% mineral sunscreens. It provides a gentle option for all skin types. As a mineral filter it works to provide a protective barrier over the surface of the skin by reflecting UV rays. This combats the penetration of UV rays into the skin, minimising the chance of sunburn.

Organic Sunscreen Filters: Also known as chemical filters, penetrate skin to scatter and absorb UV rays like a sponge. Mexoryl SX and mexoryl SL are examples of good organic filters. Mexoryl SX is designed to protect against UVA rays whilst mexoryl XL provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. When combined, they deliver synergistic protection across the UV spectrum. Mexoryl stands out as an organic filter due to the longevity of the protection it offers. It is ‘photostable’, meaning it doesn’t degrade quickly in the sun and offers longer-lasting UV protection.

Blended Sunscreen Filters (ie. Mineral and Organic): UV protection of both filter types with benefits like hydration, water resistant.

UV radiation

The sun transmits ultraviolet radiation in three wavelengths: the creatively dubbed UVA, UVB and UVC rays. UVC do not penetrate our planet’s ­atmosphere. UVB is most responsible for sunburn which can result in malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (Hugh Jackman had this ), while UVA is associated with skin ageing. Only specific sunscreens can shield us from it, prolonged exposure not only leads to wrinkles, and pigmentation, can also result in skin cancer.A product with solar protection factor (SPF) has no protective properties against UVA rays.

Look for a sunscreen that offers a broad spectrum protection. A broad-spectrum solution targets both UVA and UVB rays. UVB protection based on the SPF count – between 30 and 50 is recommended depending on your lifestyle.


UVA star rating will be listed as stars on the packaging ranging from 0 to 5. This number indicates the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB. The ratio between the level of protection afforded by the UVA protection and the UVB protection.It is important to choose a high SPF as well as a high number of stars. Look for SPF 30 or 50 and a UVA rating of four star’s .You also need be very conscientious about the mode of application and reapplication.

The Irish Cancer Society’s SunSmart code recommends that adults use 35mls of sunscreen to cover the whole body. That means using a half a teaspoon to cover each arm, the face, neck and ears and a full teaspoon for each leg, the front and the back of the body.

Apply the product 20 minutes before you step out, so it has adequate time to create a barrier shield, and reapply every two hours if you're under the sun and particularly after sweating or swimming.

UV filters and active skincare ingredients sitting in a product together can degrade the effectiveness of both. It is best to use the sunscreen separately. It is best to apply the skincare first, wait a few minutes to allow it absorb. It is important not to mix your SPF with any product as this will dilute the product.


Even the most effective sunscreen, needs the added protection of items of clothing and a hat.

Topical antioxidants

Sunscreens protect against UV-induced free radicals, but other factors generate these skin-damaging molecules including pollution, heat, stress, alcohol and smoke.

Topical antioxidants are clinically shown to neutralise free radicals, but they are difficult to stabilise in skincare formulas, and when added to sunscreen formulas they have been shown to provide very little free radical protection.1After years of skin research, SkinCeuticals developed specific combinations of vitamin C and other potent antioxidants that work synergistically to provide enhanced environmental protection. They hold a ground-breaking patent that defines three important parameters for properly formulating stable and effective vitamin C antioxidant serums: pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) at an acidic PH (below 3.5) in a high concentration (10 - 20%). Always pair an antioxidant with a sunscreen for double defence against daily damage. Apply the antioxidant serum after cleansing in the morning, allow it to absorb for a few minutes, and then apply your preferred SPF. Moisturising serums or corrective creams can be applied after your antioxidant serum and before your SPF.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18717957/

Wang S, Osterwalder U, Jung K PhD. Ex vivo evaluation of radical sun protection factor in popular sunscreens with antioxidants. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011.

Foods can protect you against sun damage.

Consuming a healthy diet full of natural sun blocking antioxidants is a useful strategy to ensure your body has the best defence against skin cancer. Carotenoids are the compounds that give foods their vibrant colour from the green leafy vegetables to the red beets, to the yellow and orange-coloured fruits and vegetables.

These carotenoids act as natural sunscreens to the plants and offer us the same benefit. Not only do these nutrients offer us a level of natural sunscreen but they also have the antioxidant free radical scavenging activity that helps protect the cells from oxidative damage which may lead into cancer development.
Eat foods that provide UV protection, including:
• Dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. These are loaded with skin-protecting antioxidants and have been shown to be cancer-protective in general.
• Red and orange fruits and veggies. Oranges, red peppers, tomatoes, and carrots…eat a variety of these for skin protecting lycopene and beta-carotene.
• Drink green tea. Green tea has been shown to help prevent non-melanoma skin cancer, and it’s full of polyphenols, which help inhibit cancer development.
• Eat the right oils. Consuming healthy oils, including coconut, olive, sesame, borage, evening primrose, and avocado helps keep your skin healthy and more resistant to sun damage. (Incidentally, putting oils such as coconut and olive on your skin blocks about 20% of UV rays.)
• Apply Vitamin E. Applying a natural form of vitamin e to your skin, such as alpha-tocopherol or tocotrienol, has been shown to protect skin from the sun and— also to reduce the length and depth of wrinkles.
• Soothe with a pure Aloe Vera. Aloe vera gel is soothing and healing to the skin. It is the perfect thing to apply if you have spent a bit too much time in the sun.
• Beta-carotene – Sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens and most yellow/orange veggies
• Lycopene – Tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, pink guava, pink grapefruit, persimmons, red cabbage
• Lutein– Spinach, kale, peas, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, broccoli
• Epi­gallocatechin gallate (ECGC)and polyphenols –Green and black tea, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, cocoa. Study found that people who drink one cup of tea per day have a lower incidence of melanoma.
• Flavonoids – Citrus, especially citrus peel
• Proanthocyanadins – Cacao, grape seeds
• Cruciferous veggies– Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale
• Vitamin C– citrus, strawberries, kiwi, peppers(capsicum). Vitamin C is great for helping kill off free radicals that your body produces in response to the cellular damaged caused by exposure to sunlight.
• Astaxanthin– microalgae - wild salmon, krill, and shellfish. This antioxidant comes from the algae protecting itself against UV.

• Other foods that may offer protection against sun damage and reduces the risk of skin cancer are olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids and nuts and seeds due to their vitamin E.
• Vitamin D. It is important to find a healthy balance between getting enough natural sunlight to maximise your vitamin D production and maintain your optimal health, while at the same time protecting yourself from sun damage that occurs from overexposure.

If your skin burns easily, it’s time to get out of the sun, you are more susceptible to sun damage. Here is a study that supports a certain amount of sun exposure protects you against melanoma.

May 22, 2023

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