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Spinach may help reduce skin cancer risk

Researchers report that eating spinach and other leafy greens may help protect against skin cancer.  Dr. Jolieke van der Pols from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) says green leafy vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and other bioactive substances that are known to have anti-cancer properties and may help boost the skin's natural defense against damage caused by UV rays," Dr van der Pols said. "This new evidence suggests that an increase in consumption of these foods may help to reduce the risk of skin cancer recurring among those with a previous history by up to 55 percent."

Source: New research findings: Spinach may help reduce skin cancer risk 12/1/2006 

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Nonmelanoma skin cancer: What are the risk factors?

Recently, the First Lady, Laura Bush, announced that she had minor surgery to remove skin cancer on her leg.  Her skin cancer was squamous cell carcinoma.  Many Americans are less familiar with the two most common types of nonmelanoma skin cancer, squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma.  There are many risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer, several of which are the same as those for melanoma such as too much UV exposure, a previous history of skin cancer, fair skin, and a family history of skin cancer. 


The American Cancer Society has outlined all of the risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer on their website.  The following list applies to basal and squamous cell only.


1)     Previous skin cancer: If you have ever had skin cancer you are at an increased risk to developing it again. 

2)     Overexposure to UV radiation including both sunlight and tanning lamps.

3)     Fair skinned people are more susceptible to developing skin cancer.

4)     Gender: According to the American Cancer Society, men are 2 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, and 3 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma.

5)     Exposure to certain chemicals such as arsenic (used in some insecticides), industrial tar, paraffin, and certain types of oil.

6)     Radiation: People who have received radiation treatment are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer at the site of treatment.

7)     Psoralen and UV light treatments used to patients suffering from psoriasis can cause an increased risk.

8)     Human papillomavirus (HPV): There are over 100 types of HPV viruses, the ones that are linked to genital warts appear to be related to skin cancer.

9)     Smoking put people at an increased risk for squamous cell, but not basal cell.

10) Genetics.


Other more rare risk factors include scars from long term or severe skin inflammation or injury, Xeroderma pigmentosum (a rare inherited condition), Basal cell nevus syndrome (rare congenital condition), and reduced immunity (such as organ transplant patients). 


For more detail on the risk factors for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, visit the American Cancer societys website.


Source: (2006). Detailed guide: Skin cancer - nonmelanoma: What are the risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer? Retrieved January 2, 2007, from American Cancer Society Web site:



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AMA suggests sun protection as a healthy resolution for 2007

The American Medical Association released 10 resolutions for a healthy new year in 2007.  In addition to eating properly, not smoking, and getting routine medical checks, the AMA recommends that you use sunblock, with an SPF of 30+, or wear protective clothing when you are in sunlight for a prolonged period of time.  They also recommend that you get your skin checked regularly for signs of skin cancer.


Source: (2006, Dec 26). AMA releases resolutions for a healthy new year. Retrieved January 2, 2007, from American Medical Association Web site:

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