I am delighted to have Dr. Michelle Jeffries as my guest for the fourth and final part of our Skincare Secrets series. Michelle is an integrated dermatologist and graduate of the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University.
Despite being the most common form of cancer in the United States, there are still a lot of misconceptions about skin cancer. In the podcast today Dr. Jeffries and I clear up a lot of these misconceptions, and also talk about the different types of skin cancers, skin cancer signs and symptoms, how to prevent skin cancer with integrated solutions, and much more.
Not all skin cancer is caused by sun exposure. Find out other risk factors at the 10-minute mark.
Different Types of Skin Cancer
- Typically manifests as a rough or scaly patch on the skin that does not go away
- The risk of these patches becoming skin cancer is relatively low (1% – 10%), but increases the longer they persist
Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Basal cells are located between the dermis and epidermis
- The most common skin cell that grows abnormally
- Basal cell carcinomas spread very rarely
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous cells make up the rest of the epidermis and part of the dermis of your skin
- Squamous cell carcinomas located on the head, lips, and neck have a higher risk of breaking off and spreading
- Melanoma is skin cancer that occurs in cells that make up your moles and the coloring of your skin
- Not always caused by sun exposure
- Higher risk of breaking off and spreading to other parts of the body compared to other types of skin cancer
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
- Sun exposure
- A family history of skin cancer
- Too much stress
- Poor nutrition
- Environmental exposure (e.g. smoking surrounds your face and hands with carcinogens)
How Often Should You Get Checked for Skin Cancer?
If you have never had skin cancer and do not have a lot of moles, Dr. Jeffries recommends coming in once a year to get checked. Individuals with a lot of moles or a history of basal or squamous cell carcinoma should come in every six months. Those with a history of melanoma should typically get checked every three months.
If you look at any spot on your body and you are unsure about it, get it looked at.
Pay attention to rough, scaly spots and pimple bumps that don’t go away. Do not hesitate to get skin abnormalities checked outside of your regular appointment intervals. Early detection makes skin cancer much easier to treat.
Integrated Options for Skin Cancer Prevention
Dr. Jeffries recommends balancing sun protection with your vitamin D requirements and she spends about 10 minutes in the morning sun each day. The more pigmented your skin, the longer it takes to make a sufficient amount of vitamin D from sun exposure. Having darker skin does not eliminate your risk of skin cancer. So achieving the right balance between sun protection and sun exposure is important.
Sun Protective Clothing
Dr. Jeffries highly recommends wearing sun-protective clothing, such as a hat, sunglasses, long pants, and long sleeves. These clothes do not need to be treated with sunscreen, but should be thick enough so that if you hold them up to the sun, no light comes through.
Apply sunscreen each morning as part of your daily skincare routine. Remember that radiation from the sun goes through clouds, so it is still important to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day. According to Dr. Jeffries, zinc oxide sunscreens are the safest.
- Vitamin C
- Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3 derivative)
- Green Tea
Other Foods Dr. Jeffries Recommends for Promoting Healthy Skin
- Omega 3 fatty acids from fish (e.g. salmon) or fish oil
Links to Check Out
Dr. Michelle Jeffries is a board certified dermatologist with fellowship training in integrated medicine. She received her medical degree from Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University and completed an integrated medicine fellowship at Arizona College of Integrated Medicine. A respected member in the dermatology field, Dr. Jeffries has published articles on dermatology in peer-reviewed journals, written chapters for dermatology textbooks, and is a regular speaker at national dermatology meetings.