Is a Good Night’s Sleep the Best Prescription for Depression and Pain?

sleep14Depression and chronic pain are two common conditions that are also associated with poor sleep quality. While it is often thought that the sleep issues are secondary to these conditions, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama indicates that depression and pain due to osteoarthritis could be the result of poor sleep quality instead of the other way around.

Background Data:

Prior research has shown that people with hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) are more likely to have insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and depression, than those without OA. The obvious relationship is that the arthritis pain affects sleep and makes people depressed. However, a 2012 study published in the journal SLEEP looked at sleep quality in people who were in chronic pain, including those with osteoarthritis and researchers found:

  • The amount of pain that people were in before they went to bed had little to do with how well they slept.
  • A person’s sleep quality predicted how much pain they were in the next day. People who slept poorly had more pain the following day.

Other studies have shown that poor sleep quality can trigger inflammatory pathways that make arthritis pain worse, and poor sleep also make people more sensitive to the feeling of pain from any cause.

New Data:

To better examine the relationship between OA, pain, and depression, 367 patients with OA of the knee from a variety of sources were recruited to participate in a trial. The participants completed a detailed questionnaire that identified overall health, depression, pain, joint function, and sleep quality. One-year follow-up was available for 288 patients.

Analysis of the data collected from the questionnaires indicated that comparing the initial baseline with 1-year follow-up data, sleep disturbance at baseline was linked with increased depression and further loss of joint function, but interestingly not more pain.

Since the questionnaire used in the study was not specifically designed to identify the exact sleep issues in OA patients, further research is needed to more fully pinpoint what is abnormal about OA patients’ sleep. Nonetheless, the conclusion from the study is the disturbance in sleep definitely precedes the depression, loss of joint function, and likely increased pain associated with OA. Hence, the takeaway message is that improving sleep quality is a key goal in preventing the progression of OA as well as the associated depression.

Commentary:

Early on in my clinical practice, I realized that improving my patient’s ability to get a good night’s sleep was usually the quickest way to help them feel better in every way. Over the years I have used a number of natural products that can help to improve sleep quality. The specific product that I now recommend as a first step is the one that I developed: Tranquil Sleep from Natural Factors. This formula provides the combination of melatonin (3 mg), 5-HTP (30 mg), and L-theanine (200 mg) in a great tasting chewable tablet or soft-gelatin capsule. These three ingredients work together to decrease the time required to get to sleep and to decrease the number of nighttime awakenings. Here is a brief description of each ingredient as it relates to improving sleep quality. If you don’t use Tranquil Sleep, you can get the same effect by combining them on your own

Melatonin is the most popular natural aid for improving sleep quality. Supplementation with melatonin has been shown in several studies to be very effective in helping induce and maintain sleep in both children and adults and in both people with normal sleep patterns and those with insomnia. Typical dosage is 3 mg at bedtime.

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is converted in the brain to serotonin – an important initiator of sleep. It is one step closer to serotonin than l-tryptophan and has shown more consistent results in promoting and maintaining sleep, even though used at lower dosages. One of the key benefits of 5-HTP is its ability to increase REM sleep (typically by about 25%) while increasing deep sleep stages 3 and 4 without lengthening total sleep time. Recommended dosage for improving sleep quality in combination with melatonin is 25 to 50 mg at bedtime.

L-Theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea. Clinical studies have demonstrated that L-theanine reduces stress, improves the quality of sleep, diminishes the symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome, heightens mental acuity and reduces negative side effects of caffeine. It is an excellent support agent to melatonin and 5-HTP. Recommended dosage is 200 mg at bedtime.

Reference:

Parmelee PA, Tighe CA, Dautovich ND. Sleep disturbance in Osteoarthritis: Linkages with pain, disability and depressive symptoms. Arthritis Care Res. 2014 Oct 6. doi: 10.1002/acr.22459. [Epub ahead of print]

Dr. Michael Murray
11/11/2014

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Contrary to News Headlines, Robin Williams Was on Drugs at the Time of His Death—Antidepressant Drugs

    “The antidepressant found in Williams' toxicology test, Mirtazapine (Remeron), has 10 drug regulatory agency warnings citing suicidal ideation.”

“The antidepressant found in Williams’ toxicology test, Mirtazapine (Remeron), has 10 drug regulatory agency warnings citing suicidal ideation.”

If news headlines were to be believed about the autopsy findings of beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams, who tragically committed suicide nearly two months ago, no drugs were found in his system at the time of his death, as evidenced by headlines from USA Today, NBC News, the BBC and others proclaiming “no alcohol or drugs” were found. These headlines couldn’t be more wrong.

The medical examiner’s report cites an antidepressant drug was in Williams’ system at the time of his death. The particular antidepressant, Mirtazapine, (also known as Remeron) carries 10  international drug regulatory warnings on causing suicidal ideation.

According to the autopsy results, not only was Williams under the influence of antidepressant drugs, but the powerful antipsychotic Seroquel was also found at the scene and appears to have been recently taken by Williams. While toxicology tests apparently were negative for the antipsychotic Seroquel, the fact remains that a bottle of Seroquel prescribed to Williams on August 4th,  just seven days prior to Williams’ suicide, was missing 8 pills. The Seroquel instructions advise to take one pill per day as needed. Side effects associated with Seroquel include psychosis, paranoid reactions, delusions, depersonalization and suicide attempt.

The question that has to be asked is why the press continues to promote the idea that no drugs were found in Williams’ system? At what point did mind-altering psychiatric drugs, which have side effects rivaling those of heroin or crack cocaine, stop being called drugs? And for those in the press who did “mention” the fact that Williams was found to have antidepressants in his system, the acknowledgement seems to promote the fact that “therapeutic concentrations” of prescription psychiatric drugs “improved his condition and kept him active until his death.”

This is a highly misleading take on the events leading to Williams tragic suicide, especially in light of the fact that not only was Williams receiving mental health “treatment,” he was under the supervision of a psychiatrist, was not abusing illegal drugs and had not “fallen off the wagon.”

The facts regarding antidepressant drugs are these:

  • Food and Drug Administration’s Medwatch Adverse Drug Reports include 470,000 adverse reactions for psychiatric drugs between 2004-2012. The FDA admits only 1% of side effects are ever reported to them, so the actual number of reported side effects is assuredly much higher.
  • Mirtazapine (also known as Remeron) carries the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “Black box” warning for suicidality.
    • There are ten warnings of suicide associated with Mirtazapine alone and suicide is among the top 2 side effects reported to the FDA on this particular antidepressant
  • The FDA’s MedWatch drug adverse event reporting system recorded 411 attempted and completed suicides associated with the antidepressant Mirtazapine alone (and the FDA estimates only 1% of side effects are ever reported to them)
  • 90,000 emergency room visits are attributed to psychiatric drugs each year in the U.S.
  • 23,755 suicides are attributed to psychiatric drugs each year in the U.S. alone.

Given the above data, one can only wonder why Williams’ psychiatric drug use has effectively been dismissed by reporting organizations. A careful review of Williams’ psychiatric “non-drug” use paints a very different tragic story.

What was found in Williams’ system were prescription psychiatric drugs with side effects that not only rival illegal street drugs, but also carry the FDA’s “Black box” warnings—the federal agency’s most serious warnings—about increased thoughts of suicide.

The fact is that two of the drugs Williams had been prescribed list suicidal thoughts as possible side effects. The Seroquel he was prescribed (and appears to have taken in the week prior to his suicide), and the antidepressant that was still in his system at the time of his suicide.  Moreover, considering the FDA’s Medwatch drug adverse event reporting system recorded 411 attempted and completed suicides associated with the antidepressant Mirtazapine alone (and the FDA estimates only 1% of side effects are ever reported to them), it becomes even more bizarre that the world’s press ignore even the possibility that these drugs could be involved in Williams’ suicide.

The much-loved comedian’s death is a great loss, but the tragedy is further compounded by the mainstream press glossing over the serious and well-known association between suicide and the psychiatric drugs Williams was taking. If only the sentiments from one of Williams’ finest roles in Awakenings had been taken literally in his personal life: “The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter.”

 

Source: cchrint.org

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Cold sores increase risk of dementia

DementiaInfection with herpes simplex virus increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Umeå University, Sweden, claim this in two studies in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

“Our results clearly show that there is a link between infections of herpes simplex virus and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This also means that we have new opportunities to develop treatment forms to stop the disease,” says Hugo Lövheim, associate professor at the Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Geriatric Medicine, Umeå University, who is one of the researchers behind the study.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common among the dementia diseases. In recent years research has increasingly indicated that there is a possible connection between infection with a common herpes virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, and Alzheimer’s disease. A majority of the population carries this virus. After the first infection the body carries the virus throughout your lifetime, and it can reactivate now and then and cause typical mouth ulcer. The hypothesis which links the herpes virus and Alzheimer’s disease is based on that a weakened immune system among the elderly creates opportunities for the virus to spread further to the brain. There this can in turn start the process which results in Alzheimer’s disease.

Hugo Lövheim and Fredrik Elgh, professor at the Department of Virology, have now confirmed this link in two large epidemiological studies. In one study, which is based on the Betula project, a study on aging, memory and dementia, the researchers show that a reactivated herpes infection doubled the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This study had 3,432 participants who were followed for 11.3 years on average. In another study, samples donated to the Medical Biobank at Umeå University from 360 people with Alzheimer’s disease were examined and as many matched people who had not developed dementia. The samples were taken on average 9.6 years before diagnosis. This study showed an approximately doubled risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if the person was a carrier of the herpes virus.

“Something which makes this hypothesis very interesting is that now herpes infection can in principle be treated with antiviral agents. Therefore within a few years we hope to be able to start studies in which we will also try treating patients to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Hugo Lövheim.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Umeå universitet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Hugo Lövheim, Jonathan Gilthorpe, Anders Johansson, Sture Eriksson, Göran Hallmans, Fredrik Elgh. Herpes simplex infection and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease—A nested case-control study. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.07.157
  2. Hugo Lövheim, Jonathan Gilthorpe, Rolf Adolfsson, Lars-Göran Nilsson, Fredrik Elgh. Reactivated herpes simplex infection increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.04.522

Source:  sciencedaily.com

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Ebola Could Reach the U.S. By the End of This Month

Eastern Sierra Leone is one of the epicenters of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. Flickr user Cyprien Fabre/European Commission DG ECHO

Eastern Sierra Leone is one of the epicenters of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. Flickr user Cyprien Fabre/European Commission DG ECHO

There is an 18 percent chance that a case of the Ebola virus will reach the United States by the end of September, according to a study published on Tuesday in PLOS Currents: Outbreaks. 

Despite restrictions reducing travel in and out of the infected countries by 80 percent, the study, which analyzes global flight patterns, suggests that a case of Ebola in the United States is becoming increasingly harder to avoid. It also lists the chance of the virus reaching the United Kingdom as between 25 percent and 28 percent.

The analysis warns that if the current West African outbreak is not contained the likelihood of the virus reaching Europe and the United States will “increase consistently.”

The study lists just a 5 percent chance of Ebola occurring in the United States today, suggesting that the disease is far from contained to countries in West Africa. According to numbers obtained by the World Health Organization, there have been an estimated 3,685 cases and 1,841 deaths from the virus since the outbreak began.

Although two Americans — Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol — have been treated for Ebola in the United States, both of them contracted the disease while working in Liberia. Doctors suggested that better medical care contributed to their eventual recovery.

A third infected American working in Liberia,  Dr. Richard A. Sacra, is on his way to the United States for treatment.

 

Source:  http://www.govexec.com/defense/2014/09/ebola-could-reach-us-end-month/93236/?oref=relatedstories

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Big Pharma want to “Protect” the Elderly from “Dangers” of Coconut Oil and Natural Supplements

deaths_in_one_year_due_to_drug

Dr. Taya Varteresian, a board certified psychiatrist working for the Veterans Administration, is the lead publisher in an article in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports titled: “Natural products and supplements for geriatric depression and cognitive disorders: an evaluation of the research.”

According to the abstract, more and more elderly people are starting to use “Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for late-life mood and cognitive disorders.” This obviously concerns psychiatrists, since their main remedies for “cognitive disorders” are powerful anti-psychotic drugs. They are not trained in natural supplements, therefore they apparently felt the need to educate other psychiatrists about the “side effects and indications for various natural products” so that psychiatrists could “protect their patients.”

Unfortunately, the patients probably need protection against the powerful arsenal of psychiatric drugs more than they do against harmless natural supplements and foods!

This is particularly true regarding anti-psychotic drugs prescribed to veterans, where the rate of suicide is far above the rate among the general population. More service members die by suicide than in combat, with 22 veterans killing themselves every single day. Obviously our pharma-based mental health system is not helping veterans, as suicide is a side effect of many anti-psychotic drugs.

So what are these dangerous supplements and “CAM products” that the field of psychiatry feels the need to warn fellow doctors about? According to the abstract they are: “omega-3 fatty acids, ginkgo biloba, SAMe, St John’s wort, B vitamins and vitamin D, huperzine, caprylidene, and coconut oil.” If these supplements are bringing about positive changes in the lives of elderly folks, it is not surprising that they are competing with Big Pharma drugs, which have a multitude of side effects, and little or no effect on cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, Medicare and insurance companies will cover the toxic drugs, which the medical system admits kill over 100,000 people a year (not including suicides or other secondary deaths), but they will not cover natural products that have few or no side effects, but are often far more effective.

If this list is indicative of natural remedies that are effective and present competition to Big Pharma, it might be well worth the time to do your own research into each one rather than trust a doctor who has been trained by Big Pharma-funded psychiatrists to advise you on natural supplements and foods. The largest criminal convictions in modern times are against the pharmaceutical companies selling these powerful drugs through the pseudo-science of psychiatry, often through deception and “off label” prescriptions for conditions the drugs were never tested against. (See: Pharmaceutical companies now among largest corporate criminals in the world: no better than white-collar drug dealers.) Their list of “dangerous” natural products might be unwittingly tipping you off to the most successful natural products to combat mental disease.

We have often reported here at Health Impact News on the testimonials of families who have successfully incorporated coconut oil and a high-fat diet into the lives of seniors suffering from mental illness with great success. (See: New Alzheimer’s Drugs Continue to Fail Where Coconut Oil Shines)

Don’t be fooled by dire warnings made against natural products such as coconut oil by Big Pharma and Big Pharma-funded mainstream media. The scare tactics usually look like this:

1. There is no science to support health claims of natural products like coconut oil.

FALSE. There are plenty of scientific studies regarding coconut oil, the high-fat ketogenic diet, and natural supplements. It is true that rigorous and costly studies as are spent by drug companies to get their products FDA approved will seldom be funded or conducted on natural products. This is because they cannot be patented to obtain a return on such an investment as the lucrative FDA-approved products can provide. However, natural products also do not need such extensive research, since they are not toxic and they are not killing people like pharmaceutical products are. Coconut oil, for example, has been nourishing billions of people around the world for thousands of years.

2. Natural products like coconut oil are dangerous because they are not regulated or approved by the FDA.

FALSE. Just the opposite is true. Nobody is dying from toxic side effects of natural foods and supplements (because there are none), but over 100,000 people a year die from prescription drugs.

There is actually one claim made against natural supplements that is generally true: their interaction with prescription drugs is unknown and potentially dangerous. However, this is true because pharmaceutical drugs are inherently dangerous, even without interactions with other products.

Of course we would disagree with the medical community’s suggested solution regarding potential dangerous drug interactions, which would be to forgo natural treatments in favor of “approved” drugs. Instead, one might want to skip the “approved” drugs and try the natural products first.

But that would put a lot of people out of business, wouldn’t it? If people found natural products to be more effective for mental illness, they might never return to the toxic drugs. It is not likely that  Big Pharma will allow that to happen.

Reference

Natural products and supplements for geriatric depression and cognitive disorders: an evaluation of the research. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2014 Aug;16(8):456.

 

Source: Brian Shilhavy  Health Impact News Editor

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Britain Is the Fattest Country in Europe: Here’s the Real Reason Why

Britain’s “obesity epidemic” is mainly caused by the fact that its population are lazy slobs and not because they eat too much, a shock new study called The Fat Lie has found.

The only reason the study – produced by Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) – is shocking is because it contradicts one of the great received ideas of our politically correct times: that fatties are the hapless victims of the rapacious and bullying food and drink industry which pressures them into eating and drinking far too much fat and sugar.

What Snowdon’s research clearly shows that this claim is nonsense. Yes, it is indeed true that British people are getting porkier. Since 2002 the average body weight of English adults has increased by two kilograms, contributing to Britain’s unenviable status as the fattest country in Europe.

But what is rarely mentioned by health campaigners is that this rise in obesity over three decades has coincided with a steady fall in average sugar and fat consumption.

Fat consumption has fallen from 111 grammes per day in 1974 to 81 grammes per day in 2012.

Sugar consumption has fallen by 16 percent since 1992.

Total calorie consumption has fallen from 2534 calories per person per day in 1974 to 1990 in 2012 – a decrease of 21.5 per cent.

Yet obesity has gone on rising. Why? Because, as Snowdon explains, obesity is a simple function of repeatedly eating more calories than you burn off.  And people are taking much less physical exercise than they used to. Britons are walking less (from 255 miles per year in 1976 to 179 miles in 2010) and cycling less (from 51 miles per year in 1976 to 42 miles in 2010). At work, 63 per cent never climb stairs; while 40 per cent never walk. Outside work, 63 per cent report spending less than ten minutes a day walking, while 53 per cent claim to do no sports or exercise at all.

This is worth keeping in mind next time you read some shrill lobby group – such as Action on Sugar – demanding that the government does more to rein in the food and drink industry or pushes for a ban on supersize portions in fast food outlets or higher taxes on fizzy drinks.

The reason these lobbyists get away with such drivel is because they find a ready audience among the panic junkies at places like Mumsnet and in much of the mainstream media which thrives on public health scare stories.

And the reason they find a ready audience in government is because there are few things a minister on the make enjoys more than being seen to clamp down on some greedy industry or other.

With most departmental budgets being cut, ministers can no longer make a name for themselves by spending their way into public favour. But what they can do – because notionally it’s “cost-free”, though of course it’s not really – is introduce more regulations in the name of public health and safety. It has happened to the tobacco industry. Now it is happening to the food and drink industry.

This is why reports like Christopher Snowdon’s are so unusual and refreshing. They’re one of our few remaining toeholds on reality in a world which finds it more convenient to fall for the cultural Marxist lie that nobody is responsible for their own problems and that it’s the government’s job to sort them out.

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Sunburns and Skin Cancer

Featured photo courtesy of Kelly Sue.

Featured photo courtesy of Kelly Sue.

Introduction:

So far this Sunlight Series has discussed exactly what sunlight is, how it is produced, how it interacts with Earth’s atmosphere, what reaches the surface, and an initial look at what happens when it hits your skin. The last post focused on how UV-B radiation creates vitamin D in your skin, and how ample vitamin D levels are extremely important for optimal human health. Sunlight has other benefits too, such as nitric oxide production and the control of circadian rhythms. Clearly, for optimal health, human beings require sunlight, yet most health advice cautions against intense sunlight.

Almost everybody who is fair-skinned (or even darker skinned) has likely at some point in his or her life received a painful sunburn. It is understandable that many people believe sunlight is dangerous as extreme sunburns are indeed painful and can lead to skin cancers.  Sunlight exposure can be a factor in the development of a skin cancer, but the process is misunderstood. There are three main types of skin cancer, with only one, melanoma, being a real threat to survival. Generally speaking, one can increase one’s resistance to being sunburned, and significantly lower any chance of developing a skin cancer, particularly melanoma, all the while reaping ample vitamin D levels and helping to prevent the development of all cancers. This will be discussed in a later post.

For this post, let’s take a look first at what a sunburn is, followed by the different types of skin cancer.

What is a Sunburn?

In a similar way that UV-B radiation is able to turn 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D3 (as explained in the previous post), UV-B radiation is intense enough to cause changes in other molecules as well. UV-B radiation is able to break molecules apart in your skin cells, including DNA, which causes a cascade of reactions.

If enough skin cells are damaged, the body’s immune system will react with inflammation in the form of increased blood flow causing redness and swelling. Pain receptors at the site of damage will also be activated. The skin then needs to be repaired, and one way of doing that is replacing the skin, which the sunburned-individual will experience as peeling. Skin damage also leads to the formation of melanin, which causes the oft-desired tan colour. Individuals with naturally darker skin have naturally higher concentrations of melanin even without UV-B induced production. Melanin also acts as a photoprotectant (protects against sunlight), and when sufficiently concentrated, can disperse up to 99.9% of UV-B radiationOnce enough melanin is produced (either through genetics or UV-B exposure), sunburns, including damage to DNA, become very unlikely.

Conventional medicine believes that unrecognized errors in the DNA repair process are the cause of all cancers in general, and the errors resulting from UV radiation exposure are the cause of skin cancers. It is hypothesized that if DNA is not repaired properly, then mutant DNA can proliferate, which if left unchecked can result in tumours. The work of Dr. Seyfried makes an opposing case that it is damage to mitochondria, and not DNA that causes cancer. Either way, with regard to skin cancer, UV-radiation is almost always implicated as the cause. The below case argues that this is illogical.

Skin Cancer:

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The entire category of skin cancers comprises the most common type of cancer in the US, with more than 3.5 million cases in over 2.0 million people being diagnosed annually. 80% of these 3.5 million cases are of the basal cell carcinoma variety, close to 20% are of the squamous cell carcinoma variety, and less than 1% of all skin cancer cases are life-threatening melanoma. It is estimated that all cancers (not just skin) will be responsible for 580,350 deaths in the US in 2013, of which 12,650 (2%) are the result of melanoma. 

The post on ozone depletion vs. global dimming explained that despite anthropogenic emissions decreasing the concentration of UV-blocking ozone in the stratosphere, the overall amount of sunlight (and accompanying UV radiation) hitting Earth’s surface at has decreased due to global dimming. In addition, it is estimated by the EPA that Americans (and presumably citizens of other developed countries) spend a whopping 90% of their time indoors. From these combined effects, although there has been an overall decrease in average sun and UV exposure, melanoma rates in the UK more than quadrupled from 1975-2010, with similar dramatic increases in the US as well.

Malignant Melanoma: 1975-2000. European Age-Standardized Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Sex, Great Britain.

Malignant Melanoma: 1975-2000. European Age-Standardized Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Sex, Great Britain.

How can UV radiation be the cause of melanoma if UV exposure is decreasing while melanoma rates are skyrocketing? It is the aim of this author to prove that sunlight and UV radiation is not the sole cause of skin cancer and that it has a myriad of health benefits, and that exposure should be encouraged.

First, let’s take a look at the three types of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma:

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), by far the most common type of skin cancer, is rarely fatal (fatal in less than 0.1% of diagnosed cases) although it can be disfiguring if its growth is left unchecked. Basal cells are the inner layer of the epidermis. Current thought has BCC generally associated with chronic ultraviolet exposure with a list of other contributing factors such as inflammatory skin conditions and complications resulting from burns, scars, and infections. Fair-skinned caucasians are the most likely to develop BCC. It is more prevalent amongst older people with a history of intense sun exposure. Although most tumors grow on sun-exposed areas of the body, BCC tumors arise on non-exposed parts of the body (the nether regions…), indicating that UV exposure is not always a factor. A photo of a BCC tumour is shown below.

These guys are reddish and shiny. They can get really gross.

These guys are reddish and shiny. They can get really gross.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma:

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common type of skin cancer, is also rarely fatal (fatal in less than 0.5% of diagnosed cases), but can also be disfiguring in serious cases. Squamous cells are the outer layer of the epidermis. As with BCC, UV exposure gets most of the blame for causing SCC, and fair skinned individuals are most at risk. Most of these tumours are on sun-exposed parts of the body, but again, these do pop up in non-exposed areas as well, implying that UV exposure is not the only factor in tumour development. An image of a SCC tumour is below:

These ones look like a deep disgusting scab.

These ones look like a deep disgusting scab.

Melanoma:

Melanoma is by far the least common skin cancer, but also by far the most deadly (death in 12.4% of cases). Melanoma is a cancer of the melanocytes, which are responsible for producing melanin (tan pigment). Once again, Caucasians are the most at risk. Treatment is usually surgical removal, and if the tumour returns, then chemo- and radiation-therapy is pursued. Although UV-radiation is generally implicated as the causative factor, one study found that up to 75% of melanoma tumours occur on relatively unexposed body sites. This observation has lead many researchers to hypothesize that when a certain area of the body is usually unexposed and is infrequently exposed to high doses of UV-radiation, that the skin is not “prepared” (ie: tanned) for the radiation assault and thus is more damaged which leads to skin cancer. However, there are exceptional cases where melanoma develops on areas that are almost never exposed to sunlight, including the male scrotum and urethraThe urethra is definitely one area where the sun don’t ever shine. A photo of a melanoma tumour is below.

These look like wacky-shaped dark weird freckles. Beware the wacky freckles.

These look like wacky-shaped dark weird freckles. Beware the wacky freckles.

Conclusions:

Based on the information presented above, the following conclusions can be made:

  1. UV exposure can be a factor in the development of skin cancer, especially amongst caucasians, but skin cancer also develops in areas of the body that are not exposed to sunlight.
  2. The vast majority of skin cancer cases are not life threatening.
  3. Despite the average amount of UV-exposure decreasing in developed countries, rates of skin cancer, including melanoma, are skyrocketing. UV radiation cannot explain the massive increase in skin cancer rates.

There are strategies to increase your skin’s resistance to the damage incurred by sunlight exposure through dietary and exposure habits. These will be discussed in the next post, where these practices will be outlined with the intention of educating on how to reap all the disease preventing benefits of sunlight exposure, while minimizing damage. Sounds like a win-win, and it is indeed possible.

 

Source:  http://sustainablebalance.ca/sunburns-and-skin-cancer/

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