New Research on Skin Cancer Prevention

In Dermatology by Andrei Metelitsa, MD

Every week hundreds of new research studies are published that could hold answers to some of our own individual problems. By looking at some of this new research from time to time, you may find true gems or jewels that are life-transforming.

Today we’ll take a look at new research on skin cancer prevention. Here’s a list of 6 of the most recent report findings:

1. Not Enough Vacationers are Using Sun Protection

You might have been vacationing and included in this study without realizing it. Thirty seven hotel chains and resorts participated in a study to see how many vacationers were applying sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing, and staying out of the direct sun and using shade as part of their skin cancer prevention measures. The vacationers were mostly between the ages of 35 and 60 years old and 7878 of them were observed or surveyed. Only 40% of them used shade, 60% of them used sunscreen and 42% of them were sunburned.

The same old principles we learned decades ago still apply – you have to protect yourself from skin cancer. The warmth of the sun’s rays sure do feel good when we’re on vacation, but they can have a very bad side to them.

2. Dietary Antioxidants Can Prevent DNA Damage from Free Radicals Caused by UV Rays

Whole foods have shown some promise in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancer in Americans. The whole foods contain naturally-occurring antioxidants that contribute to preventing skin tumors and skin cancers. Animal studies have already confirmed that dietary antioxidants show significant promise in skin cancer prevention.

Are you eating citrus fruits, lots of vegetables, and a variety of them every week? By consuming a variety, you get benefits from all of them, not just one or two. The top whole foods include broccoli, berries, cabbage, garlic, and citrus fruits.

3. Norway Scientists Want Sun Benefits and Sun Protection Simultaneously

What these researchers found was something a bit different from what we are told about when to go out in the sun. They were examining the situation from the perspective of going out in the sun to get your vitamin D but still protecting yourself from skin cancer. They weren’t just saying it’s important to stay out of the sun, period.

Here’s their conclusion: “The best way to obtain a given dose of vitamin D with minimal carcinogenic risk is through a non-burning exposure in the middle of the day, rather than in the afternoon or morning.”

4. B Vitamin Provides Natural Skin Cancer Prevention

Australian scientists gave 500 mg nicotinamide twice daily or placebo to 386 participants who had already had at least two nonmelanoma skin cancers in the previous 5 years. They took it for one full year. Dermatologists examined them every 3 months for a year and a half, looking or new skin cancers.

After a year, those who took the B vitamin had 23% fewer skin cancers than those in the placebo group. Even the number of actinic keratoses was 11% lower in the B vitamin group at 3 months, 14% lower at 6 months, 20% lower at 9 months, and 13% lower at 12 months. Since this was an official Phase 3 trial, dermatologists will be hearing about it soon.

5. Vitamin D Found to Have a New Role in Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma

In Cleveland, doctors found a new use of vitamin D – for deep tumors that are treated with photodynamic therapy that uses 5-ALA as a sensitizing agent. The ALA works well for superficial skin cancers and actinic keratoses but the deeper skin cancers can’t get enough of the protoporphyrin IX produced by the treatment.

That’s all changed now since doctors gave vitamin D3 supplements for 10 days prior to the treatment and found that this enhanced the protoporphyrin IX levels 3 to 4 times. This means more skin cancer cells were treated. They also found a death in the cancer cells by 20 times the normal rate when the photodynamic therapy was done.

This means skin cancer prevention in the future as well as treatment right now that is very successful.

6. University of California Doctors Think the Future of Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention May Be Nutrition

California doctors say there’s now enough evidence that diet, grape seed, proanthocyanidins, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (found in tea), resveratrol, rosmarinic acid, lycopene and fig latex decrease melanoma risk.

How many of these do you consume regularly? Most of these are available in good whole food supplements.

Lots of great info – and it keeps coming! But do get an annual check for skin cancer at your cosmetic dermatologist’s office soon. An annual appointment is a good skin cancer prevention strategy. Give us a call at 403-271-3627 to schedule a consultation.

Buller, D.B., et al. Rationale, design, samples, and baseline sun protection in a random trial on a skin cancer prevention intervention in resort environment. Contemp Clin Trials 2015 Nov 21.

Katta, R. and Brown, D.N. Diet and skin cancer: the potential role of dietary antioxidants in nonmelanoma skin cancer prevention. J Skin Cancer 2015: 2015: 893149.

Grigalavicius, M., et al. Daily, seasonal, and latitudinal variations in solar ultravioltet A and B radiation in relation to vitamin D production and risk for skin cancer. Int J Dermatol 2015 Nov 6.

Chen, A.C., et al. A Phase 3 randomized trial of nicotinamide for skin cancer chemoprevention. N Engl J Med 2015 Oct 22; 373(17): 1618-26.

Anand, S., et al. Combination of oral vitamin D3 with photodynamic therapy enhances tumor cell death in a murine model of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Photochem Photobiol 2014 Sep-Oct; 90(5): 1126-35.

Tong, L.X. and Young, L.C. Nutrition: the future of melanoma prevention? J Am Acad Dermatol 2014 Jul; 71(1): 151-60.