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Ski Star Julia Mancuso on Skin Cancer Awareness, Sunscreen and Squats

Written on January 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm , by

Julia Mancuso, professional skier and three-time Olympic medalist, knows a thing or two about sun protection. Not only is she religious about shielding her skin on the slopes, she’s the granddaughter of a dermatologist. So when she was asked to team up with the American Academy of Dermatology for their SPOT Skin Cancer initiative to raise awareness for skin cancer, it was the perfect fit. As a “SPOTlighter” for the campaign, Mancuso is spreading the word to better the public’s understanding of the deadly disease and motivate them to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer.

Tell me about the SPOT Skin Cancer Campaign and why it’s important to you.
“I grew up being really in tune with taking care of my skin and wearing sunscreen and taking the right steps to protect myself on all occasions. I actually preach to my teammates all of the time, saying, ‘Make sure you’re wearing sunscreen!’ And then my grandpa mentioned something about the America Academy of Dermatology, and working with them and how they were coming up with a new campaign. They contacted me and it was just a real natural introduction and fit to help promote the campaign.”

Many people mistakenly think they only need sunscreen during the summer or at the beach, so why is sun protection important year round?
“It’s so important—especially for someone like me who spends so much time outdoors training in the sun in the winter. In the past, I’ve been guilty of having a goggle tan, so that’s the first indication to me that you get a lot of sun outside in the snow, even when there are clouds and you think that it’s not penetrating. I’m proud to say that I haven’t had a goggle tan since I was a young girl. It’s really important to protect yourself at all times.”

What’s your sun protection plan when you’re training?
“Every morning, I wake up and put on a moisturizer that has SPF 30, and then I put a regular sunscreen on top of that. We spend a lot of time training and then take a break in the lodge so I always reapply when I go inside or I keep it with my water, so anytime I stop for a drink, it reminds me to put more sunscreen on. In the summer when we’re training outside in high elevation for glacier skiing, I try to wear a handkerchief to block sun reflecting off the snow, too.”

Do you have any favorite sweat-proof sunblock products?
“I like wearing Shiseido products—they’re really great for all-weather protection. I like to wear the Shiseido Sun Protection Liquid Foundation ($35, shiseido.com). I think that it’s nice you can get a little coverage when your skin gets red from being outside.”

What are your other beauty must-haves?
“Well, recently, I’ve been using Osea Malibu, they use all-organic algae in their products. I use the Essential Hydrating Oil ($28, oseamalibu.com), which I find really good in the winter because you’re not putting heavy creams on. You can moisturize with a clean oil, even just the spots that get dry, and then you’re not putting on too much product that feels heavy underneath scarves and hats.”

What are some of the best exercises skiers can do to become stronger?
“A basic squat is the most typical exercise because skiing involves a lot of core strength and quads and glutes, but for me, I think the biggest myth for skiers is that you want to have really strong quads, but it’s actually that you want to balance your hamstrings and quads. So when I’m doing a lot of exercises, I focus on lifting my tailbone coming up so I’m really engaging my hamstrings as well which prevents knee injury.”

How do you like to stay in shape during the off-season?
“I think a great thing for skiers is biking. I really like to ride my road bike, so I do a lot of road biking and spend time in the gym doing squats and Olympic lifting and jumping. Agility work, box jumps and other plyometrics are great for skiing.”

Skin Cancer is Color Blind

Written on July 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm , by

If you have brown skin, skin cancer may not be top of mind—but it should be.

Research by L’Oréal Paris USA has shown that sun can cause DNA damage in all skin types light to dark. Ultraviolet induced DNA damage is the number one reason that skin cancer develops, so this science debunks the ”people of color don’t get skin cancer” myth.

The truth is, only 17 percent of surveyed minority respondents had been to a dermatologist for a mole check, and over 65 percent of surveyed African American adults had never worn sunscreen.  The incidence of skin cancer is going up particularly fast in Hispanic and some Asian populations, and because of delayed detection it is more likely to be deadly in those with darker skin. Skin cancer is curable if caught early, so everyone regardless should be wearing broad spectrum SPF 30 daily, getting skin checks by a dermatologist yearly, and doing monthly self-skin checks with particular focus on new/changing lesions of the palms/soles and genital skin.

—By Mona Gohara, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut

Make A (Free!) Melanoma Research Donation With SkinCeuticals

Written on May 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm , by

One person in the United States dies from melanoma every hour. In honor of Melanoma Awareness Month, skincare brand SkinCeuticals will donate $5 in your name to the Melanoma Research Alliance for every interaction on their Facebook page (sharing a virtual button, short video or written testimonial). You’ll also be entered into a sweepstakes to win some of their best-selling products. An easy way to give back— and increase awareness about a life-threatening issue— without spending a penny!

Melanoma Monday: 5 Sun Secrets You Need To Know

Written on May 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm , by

Protect your skin 365 days a year, not just when you hit the beach.

Each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. Arm yourself with these sun protection secrets from FITNESS Advisory Board member Mona Gohara, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University and founder of K&J Sunprotective Clothing.

1. Commute carefully:  Cancer-causing ultraviolet rays can come through the windows of your car, home or office. Studies in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology show that in the U.S., left-sided skin cancers— and aging— are more common as a result of sun exposure during driving. Regardless of weather conditions, apply a light, broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher on your face, arms, and hands before hitting the road.

2. Get out early: Choose the morning to have (protected) fun in the sun. Research published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that afternoon sun exposure is five times more likely to lead to skin cancer. Scientists say this is because a protein the body produces to repair damage caused by ultraviolet rays is most active in the mornings. In general, seeking the shade between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. is best, but when this isn’t possible, try to get an early start to your day.

3. Know your ABCDE…F and G’s: Do monthly self skin exams and look for any spot that is new, not healing or— as gross as it sounds— bleeding, oozing or crusting. When examining moles, be on the lookout for asymmetry (one side doesn’t equal the other), border/color irregularity, lesions growing in diameter, and anything evolving (itching, hurting, etc.)— but don’t forget to look at your fingers/toes and genitalia. Skin cancer can come anywhere, and it’s usually more dangerous in those not-so-easy-to-see spots.

4. Say no to tanning:  When someone’s first tanning booth exposure is in youth, their chances of developing melanoma are increased by 75 percent.  It has also been shown that ladies who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Additional studies have concluded that tanning can be as addictive as hardcore drugs, making it a hard habit to break.

5. Don’t rely on dark skin: People with dark skin are not immune to skin cancer— fact it can be more deadly in this population. A survey in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that only 17 percent of ethnic minority respondents has been to the dermatologist for a skin check. Everyone, regardless of skin type, should wear sunscreen daily and seek the care of a dermatologist for guidance on optimal skin health.

California Bans Indoor Tanning Under Age 18

Written on October 11, 2011 at 7:37 am , by

This past weekend, the state of California passed the first-ever law banning indoor tanning for people under age 18. Because tanning beds were recently moved into the highest cancer risk category by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (along with the likes of tobacco, arsenic and asbestos), and indoor tanners have a 74% higher risk of developing melanoma, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, we believe the ban is justified and hope that it takes hold across the country.

Tell us: What do you think of California’s ban on indoor tanning for those under 18? Should other states follow suit?

Week Four: Sun Protection Secrets

Written on May 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm , by

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so we are going to feature weekly sets of sun protection secrets from Mona Gohara, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. Get set to up your sun smarts and stay safe all summer!

Day 22: One person dies of melanoma each hour. The most common cancer amongst women in their 20s takes someone’s life every 60 minutes. However, if detected early, melanoma is curable. Do monthly self skin checks to seek out moles that appear new or different.

Day 23: Examine all your parts. Don’t forget to look at the palms, soles, behind the ears and in the scalp-melanoma can occur on non-sun-exposed skin as well.

Day 24: One is the magic number. One blistering or five non-blistering sunburns in childhood double the lifetime risk of melanoma.

Day 25: Know your risks. Other risk factors include: those with a family history of melanoma, individuals with fair skin and light eyes, or multiple moles and tanning bed use.

Day 26: No one is immune. Everyone regardless of skin color is at risk for skin cancer. In fact, when skin cancer occurs in brown skinned individuals it is usually more aggressive and more likely to metastasize. The most common locations for melanoma in people of color are the palms, soles, under the finger/toenails and on mucous membranes (mouth or genital skin). Amongst those with darker complexions skin cancer is more likely to occur in areas of previous trauma, scars, burns or radiation-although the sun plays a role it is not the most likely culprit. Daily sun protection, yearly visits to the dermatologists and monthly self-skin checks are recommended for all ethnic groups.

Day 27: Melanoma and breast cancer are linked. Recent studies have shown that those with melanoma are more likely to get breast cancer and that those with breast cancer are at a higher risk for melanoma. This could be as a result of genetics or more diligent cancer surveillance in these populations. Other people at an increased risk for skin cancer are organ transplant recipients and those with lowered immune systems such as HIV+ patients. All of these groups should establish care with a dermatologist in order to ensure early detection should a problem arise.

Day 28: Beautiful skin is healthy skin.  Protecting your skin daily will ensure radiant skin for life. May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. Share with buzz with your family and friends; spread the word, save a life.

Week Three: Sun Protection Secrets

Written on May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm , by

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so we are going to feature weekly sets of sun protection secrets from Mona Gohara, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. Get set to up your sun smarts and stay safe all summer!
Day 15: The damage is not already done. Contrary to popular belief, 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure is not acquired before age 18-only 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18. Forty six percent occurs between the ages of 19 and 40.  It is never to late to fight those feisty free radicals which wreak cosmetic havoc and cause skin cancer.

Day 16: Like SPF, Moisturization is a must year-round. Keeping the skin well hydrated helps to decrease the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Take note of what special care your skin may need. For eczema prone, sensitive skin try Aveeno Nourishing 24-Hour Ultra Hydrating Whipped Soufflé, which contains colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin. For rosacea, Eucerin Redness Relief helps to mask summer flushing. For acne-prone skin, Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer is light and effective. Always top these moisturizers with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher every single day, 365 days a year.

Day 17: Eat to beat skin cancer. Antioxidants are the ultimate antidote to free radical damage. Fruits and veggies that fit the bill: kiwi, mulberries, blueberries, 
 blackberries, prunes, pomegranate, pink grapefruit, red grapes, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets and red bell pepper.

Day 18: Avoid summer sheen. Courtesy of sebum, the skin’s natural oil, many of us struggle with that not-so-fun glisten. This summer, let the sun do the shining and look for mattifying primers that have SPF too. (Studies show that unprotected skin can produce up to 26 percent more oil when exposed to UV rays than SPF-covered skin.)

Day 19: Sneaky sun spots. Sun damage rears its ugly head in many ways, but one of the most menacing is the seemingly out of the blue appearance of permanent brown sun spots (aka, lentigos). Lentigos almost inevitably darken and become more obvious over the summer. Diligent, daily sunscreen use and lightening creams with hydroquinone, soy, licorice root extract or other skin lighteners are the gold standard for treatment, but sometimes a quick fix with concealer is in order.

Day 20: Yoga benefits the mind, body, soul and skin. Stress creates muscle tension all over the body, especially the face. Tense 
facial muscles parlay into wrinkles, permanent lines and can increase the effects of sun damage. Training the body to diffuse tension with meditation techniques helps contracted facial muscles to relax. Plus, working out can help ward off cell damage head to toe, which is important for skin cancer prevention.

Day 21: Visible light can worsen melasma. Just when you thought you were safe from the sun, buried in your office, mired in deadlines and meetings. Enter  “need for daily sunscreen” reason 101. Recent data out of Henry Ford Medical Center Department of Dermatology, has indicated that melasma (darkening of the face from sun, pregnancy, or birth control pills) can indeed be worsened by the indoor visible light we are exposed to in the office, home, shopping malls, etc. Don’t panic, no need to slather on “greasy, coconutty” protection, instead channel cosmetically elegant make-up enriched with physical UV light blockers, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

Week Two: Sun Protection Secrets

Written on May 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm , by

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so we are going to feature weekly sets of sun protection secrets from Mona Gohara, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. Get set to up your sun smarts and stay safe all summer!

Day 8: Know your natural SPF. The melanin level in most fair skinned individuals provides a “built-in” SPF of 3.4, while those with brown skin have an SPF of 13.4. Although Mother Nature does provide a nice buffer, official recommendations are daily application of SPF 30 or higher-and with intensive sun exposure reapplying 1-2 ounces (the size of a ping-pong ball) every 2 hours for optimal use. Think beyond the beach or pool, prolonged summer sun exposure can happen at barbeques, outdoor concerts, trips to the zoo or amusement parks with the family and sporting events.

Day 9: Brown is beautiful. No one can dispute the aesthetic appeal of sun-kissed skin. Unfortunately, since 90 percent of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet light, excessive sun represents a forbidden fruit to most health conscious individuals.  The solution? Tan in a can. Sunless tanners have bridged the gap between dazzling and dangerous. Remember to exfoliate the entire body prior to applying in order to avoid streaks.

Day 10: The “D”lemma. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that humans get via diet and sunlight. This vitamin is found naturally in cod liver oil, liver, eggs, butter and fatty fish. It can also be absorbed by drinking fortified milk/orange juice. We know that vitamin D is imperative for healthy bones, cancer prevention and protection against osteoporosis, cardiovascular and autoimmune disease. An ongoing study from the department of dermatology at Stanford University now shows that this super vitamin may also protect against melanoma, especially in women with a previous history of skin cancer. The dilemma? Because of genetic tendencies, trends towards skin cancer prevention and inadequate dietary intake, some people are deficient in this vitamin.  That being said, supplements and a diet rich in vitamin D foods remain preferable to sun exposure when is comes to ensuring adequate levels.

Day 11: The forgotten land, your scalp. Often times the scalp gets burned because of an “Oops, I forgot to put sunscreen there” or “ I didn’t want my hair to get greasy” maneuver. Ok, no more excuses. Skin cancers develop on the scalp commonly. Worse yet, tumors in this location are more likely to be aggressive and metastasize. Tip: To avoid excessive sheen, spray sunscreen on to the tips of your fingers and work into the hair, starting with the part.

Day 12: There is a formula to melanoma prevention. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that by applying sunscreen daily to the face, hands, arms and neck one could reduce melanoma risk by 50 percent. An easy fix to a potentially fatal problem.  That being said, the fact remains that 35 percent of women separately surveyed admitted to NEVER wearing sunscreen. Scary, but true.

Day 13: Learn the labels. Sunscreen isles in drugstores can be confusing and overwhelming. Decode the sunscreen Rosetta stone with a few basic tenets.  1-SPF only refers to the amount of UVB protection a product supplies, make sure to look for a label that reads “broad spectrum” to ensure sufficient UVA coverage as well. Active ingredients such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mexoryl or avobenzone, also guarantee that UVA will be blocked adequately. 2-Don’t let the numbers fool you. Nothing is truly 100 percent. SPF 15 blocks out 94% of the sun’s harmful rays, SPF 30 blocks out 97% and SPF 100 blocks out 99% of carcinogenic UVB rays. 3-Sunscreen is like a gym membership-its great in theory, but it only works if you use it (the right way!)

Day 14: Seek the shade or avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when ultraviolet rays are the strongest. If you are exercising outdoors try to do it in the early morning or the evening. If prime sun hours are more convenient, scope out a big tree and do your squats in the shade!

Give & Get with SkinCeuticals

Written on May 4, 2011 at 7:44 am , by

Talk about getting what you give: In honor of National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the brand SkinCeuticals will donate $20 to the Melanoma Research Alliance and send you a free full-size bottle of their new Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 (a $30 value and a personal favorite of ours!) when you share a sun protection-related video testimonial on their Facebook page. And each written testimonial posted to their page will garner a $2 donation to the cause. Truly a win-win proposition!

Week One: Sun Protection Secrets

Written on May 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm , by

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so we are going to feature weekly sets of sun protection secrets from Mona Gohara, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. Get set to up your sun smarts and stay safe all summer!

Day 1: Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the United States. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer. Protect your largest organ by getting yearly checks by a dermatologist and examine your own skin monthly. The silver lining? Most skin cancers are curable if caught early.

Day 2: 90% of the visible signs of aging are caused by daily sun exposure. Ultraviolet A rays cause brown sun spots, wrinkles, saggy skin and the breakdown of collagen. An easy fix? Daily sunscreen application to the face and hands. SPF 30 or higher is ideal.

Day 3: Talk to the hand! Damaging ultraviolet rays come through the windows of most cars, leaving your hands (as they rest on the steering wheel) and the left side of the face, most vulnerable to unwanted sunspots and wrinkled skin. Apply sunscreen to the backs of your hands before and after your commute, and enjoy the appearance of youthful hands for years to come!

Day 4: Protect those gams. The most common place for melanoma in women is the calves! Avid runners, swimmers, tennis players and other outdoor sports enthusiasts should be particularly cautious. For ultimate protection, slip on  sun-protective workout gear and apply sunscreen.

Day 5: Melanoma is the most common cancer in women between the ages of 25 and 29. The culprit? Tanning beds. “Parlor” patrons are exposed to 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from outdoor sun. Tanning bed devotees younger than 35 increase their melanoma risk by 75%. Look for moles that are asymmetric (one side is not the mirror image of the other), have an irregular border /color or those that are larger than the size of a pencil eraser. Pay close attention to subtle symptoms, such as pain, soreness, itchiness or a visceral compulsion to recurrently examine a mole—these are all reasons to pick up the phone and dial your derm.

Day 6: Fifty percent of Americans will have at least one skin cancer by the age of 65. Remember if you can spot it, you can stop it. Look for any spots on the skin that are bleeding, oozing, crusting or not healing. These are all potential signs of skin cancer.

Day 7: When it comes to skin cancer prevention, women are better listeners. A recent study published in the Archives of Dermatology revealed that when men and women melanoma patients were surveyed up to a decade later, women were more likely to have adjusted their behavior towards sun protection. Results of a separate questionnaire showed that women more often seek skin exams because of a concerning mole or fear of previous sun exposure. Men on the other hand, were usually inclined to get skin checks only after a diagnosis of skin cancer. Tip: Make a date for annual his-and-hers derm appointments!