If you live in Phoenix, it will come as no surprise to you that sunblock is a must year-round, not just when you are outside at the pool or enjoying a picnic at the park. At Affiliated Dermatology, we tell our patients that sunblock needs to be worn every day, rain or shine, even if you have no intentions of spending an extended amount of time outside.
When looking for a daily sunscreen, don’t settle for anything less than 30 sun protection factor, also known as SPF. An SPF of 30 or greater will block approximately 97 percent of the sun’s harmful UVB rays. When shopping for sunscreen, look for a product that offers a “broad-spectrum” of coverage. This means it will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays, reducing your risk of skin cancer and preventing premature aging.
Vitamins & Food
In addition to wearing sunblock daily, did you know some foods and vitamin supplements may naturally protect your skin from cancer and photo-aging? Foods high in antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin B3, are not only beneficial to your body, they are good for skin protection, too. Load up on citrus fruits (think oranges, pineapple, grapefruit) and dark green leafy vegetables (try spinach and kale) to protect your skin naturally. The vitamin C in these foods is critical to the synthesis of collagen and elastin, plus it acts as a potent antioxidant leading to protection from UV damage and photoaging.
Vitamin E is something else you can add to your diet to increase skin protection. This fat-soluble vitamin can be found in nuts, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables. Lastly, search out foods that are rich in vitamin B3, like potatoes, lentils, bananas, chili peppers, tuna, and turkey. This powerful vitamin enhances collagen production, prevents UV induced immunosuppression and carcinogenesis and helps improve the skin’s ability to fight sun damage that will inevitably lead to skin cancer.
We also strongly recommend Phoenicians consider adding a couple important and affordable supplements to their vitamin routine. Heliocare, a supplement derived from a tropical fern called the polypodium leucotomos, decreases your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer by 30 percent when taken every day. Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) decreases your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer by 23 percent when taken twice daily. These supplements are cheap and easy to find at any local drugstore or even online at Amazon.com.
Finally, remember, when protecting yourself from the sun, you are not only protecting yourself from skin cancer, but also from UV induced photo-damage, which leads to premature skin aging. Approximately 83 percent of wrinkles and other signs of skin aging is directly correlated to sun exposure.
So, living in Arizona, make it a priority to wear sunscreen every day, apply a thick layer (approximately one-ounce or the size of a shot glass) and reapply regularly. This will reduce your risk of sun-induced skin-cancer by 25 percent and keep you looking young and healthy.