Over 10 years ago, I had some dysplastic nevi (weird moles) taken off of my back which came back with atypical cells, so the dermatologist had to remove more cells in that area to make sure they got it all. After all of that, I started being VERY careful about sun protection. A couple of months ago, I noticed a strange spot on my back, so I went in and they actually removed 2 dysplastic nevi and they both came back with atypical cells. So, I have to have another procedure in a few weeks to remove more atypical cells. I am VERY thankful that it wasn’t melanoma, and I want to do all that I can to protect my skin. I never expose my back to the sun, so what else can I do?
The first thing I asked was why would this happen in the first place? I have an Italian heritage which I thought would put me at a lower risk. However, I grew up spending most of my summers outside (often without sunscreen just because we didn’t know better) and I used the tanning bed often starting in Jr. High! Plus, it is hereditary!
I still love to be outside though, so I have to take appropriate steps to protect my skin. Did you know that some foods/nutrients have been shown to have protective effects?
The pigments that color fruits and vegetables help to prevent skin cellular damage from the sun. Plants have to protect themselves from the sun’s UV rays as well and these pigments from carotenoids are powerful. When we eat a variety of plants, especially those high in carotenoids, we help to protect our skin from the UV rays and also help to prevent disease and cancer.
Carotenoids are the orange, red and yellow pigments found in orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables!
Fruits and vegetables that are high in these carotenoids include:
- tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon (lycopene)
- spinach, kale, broccoli, corn and beans (lutein and zeananthin)
- leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, canteloupe, papaya (alpha and beta carotene)
- a pure supplement can also help
I recently discovered via a blood test that I am low in Vitamin D (very common in the Midwest!), so I will be adding that to my regimen. Vitamin D helps your organs to repair damaged cancer cells. If you have a Vitamin D deficiency, you are more prone to skin cancer than those with sufficient levels. If you are deficient (easy to measure with a simple blood test), you should supplement with at least 2,000 IU (Vitamin D is great for your mood and cravings, too!)
Sources of Vitamin D:
- short periods of sunshine without sunscreen (10-15 minutes gives you 10,000 IU)
- salmon, tuna or other fatty fish (wild)
- egg yolks
- beef liver
- a high quality Vitamin D supplement that uses the most usable form, D3
Sunscreen is important! Look for natural options made with zinc oxide if possible.
How do you protect your skin?