Preventing common health issues for over 50s: skin cancer

 The British Skin Foundation has released statistics showing that at least 100,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the UK each year! Although this issue is on the rise, there are still things you can do to nip it in the bud, no matter what age you are.

Know your skin

It’s so important to know your skin back to front. By keeping a close eye on any moles or marks you may have you’ll be able to notice any changes as soon as they happen. Whilst this won’t stop skin cancer from happening, you’ll be able to catch it before any, more serious developments happen.

Don’t avoid the doctors

If you do happen to spot changes to moles and marks, it’s important to let the doctor know immediately. Many over 50s are understandably afraid of a cancer diagnosis; it’s a scary thing, there’s no way around that. However, seeing the doctor as soon as changes occur is vital for preventing the spread of cancer to other areas of the body. If treated early, skin cancer is incredibly easy to beat; it usually only requires the removal of the mole itself.

Our specialist skin consultants at The McIndoe Centre offer a skin lesion and mole removal service which is dedicated to diagnosing your condition and finding the most suitable treatment for you.

Sun cream

This might sound obvious, but sun cream is vital in preventing skin cancer. Make sure you use a high SPF sun cream when out and about whatever the weather; it is definitely still possible to sustain skin damage on a cloudy day. Don’t just save the sun cream for the beach or holiday either. Gardening, barbecuing, walking the dog and a whole range of other activities require sun cream if they’re causing you to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Seek out the shade

Whilst it may be tempting to soak up as many rays as possible, Cancer Research recommend staying in the shade between 11am and 3pm. This is one of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays and prevent burns.

Food

Most skincare advice will focus on what you put in your body as well as on it, and the prevention of skin cancer is no exception. To protect your skin from cancer and reduce your risk there are a range of nutrients you should be getting:

  • Antioxidants are essential for stopping the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells’ membranes and this is what can trigger the mutation into cancer cells. As a rule of thumb, orange foods are a great source of antioxidants. Try to incorporate carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and cantaloupe into your everyday diet. Berries have also been pitted as an easy winner when it comes to antioxidant levels and are also low in sugar compared to other fruits.
  • Omega 3s have been seen to slow cancer growth, again due to the support they provide to healthy cell membranes. As an added bonus, they’ve also been linked to better heart health. Get these in oily fish, salmon and avocado.
  • Biotin is what makes up skin cells, and so is a miracle B vitamin for skin health. It can provide a screening effect, protecting the skin from UV rays; this doesn’t mean you should scrimp on the sun cream. Find it in bananas, eggs and rice.

These are just a few of the nutrients you should be getting to boost skin health and prevent cancer, but there are many more, and a healthy, balanced diet should ensure that you get all of the vitamins your skin needs.

Whilst summer is a time to enjoy yourself and relax, it’s really important not to let skin care slip. These tips should ensure that you stay safe in the sun. If you have any concerns about your health this summer, why not take a look at our expert article, Six summer health problems sorted. For more information on cancer in general, visit How to cut your cancer risk.

Page last reviewed on 15/07/2016