Health & Fitness

By Liz Laffont

Raise your hand off the mouse if you still believe there is such a thing as a “healthy tan.” In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, as well as in an effort to keep Beauty News readers healthy and wrinkle free, it’s time we learn the cold hard truth: getting a tan is a sign of radiation damage which makes that “little bit of color” very very unhealthy!

The Skin Cancer Foundation says: “Go With Your Own Glow!” and Park Avenue dermatologist Wendy Long Mitchell, M.D. agrees. She urges, “If you have a family history of skin cancer, have exposed yourself to more than 20 tanning bed uses, gotten a lot of sun exposure as a child or if you’ve had 1 or more blistering sunburns, you need to get checked.” She frequently discovers melanomas (which are the most serious form of skin cancer) in men and women in their twenties! It’s essential that you go to your dermatologist for yearly screenings.

Did you know that where you live can increase your risk of skin cancer? Before you think you are safe because you don’t live in Tahiti or the 90210 zip-code, think again. According to Long Mitchell, “if you live in higher latitudes (above Atlanta) and lack vitamin D3, which the body absorbs from the environment, where you live can cause higher melanoma risk; particularly for Caucasians.”

Don’t have a dermo in your rolodex? Log onto and find out when the Road to Healthy Skin Tour screening bus will be in your area. Presented by Aveeno and Rite-Aid with support from Columbia Sportswear, this retro fitted bus will have private exam rooms to screen more than 10,000 people in 50 cities across the country. It’s set to roll through 100 locations now through the fall.

Finally, don’t just pack your cosmetic bag with SPFs, pack your diet too! Take a multi-vitamin and eat green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. These veggies have excellent sources of skin cancer fighting antioxidants. Craving something sweeter? Aà§aà­ berry juice is also chock-full of necessary antioxidants. And don’t forget the importance of fish! The Omega 3’s in cod oil and fish oil is also a key element in fighting melanoma. Finally, remember that a balanced diet keeps our immune system healthy which is critical in defending ourselves against cancers from head to toe.

Originally published June 2008
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