May Flowers and UV Rays

Happy May!  We are just finishing an unusually wet April here in New England, as I write this on April 29th we have had 20 days of at least some rain in the 29 days of April so far.  Well… get ready for a little sun!  They say April showers bring May flowers, and I believe that we will see a lot more of the sun for sure in May.  This is the time of year that we really start spending more time in the sun, and with that we are exposed to more ultra violet radiation. We really should be using some form of protection from the sun all year long, but especially starting now and through the summer as the days are getting longer and warmer and we are spending more time outside.

The President of The Skin Cancer Foundation Dr. Perry Robins warns us… “It’s not just the sunburns that usually occur during the summer or on summer vacations that are associated with skin cancer, it is all of your lifetime sun exposure that adds to your risk of skin cancer.”

Remember that clouds filter out the light from the sun, but not the UV rays from the sun. Ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) light are the cancer causing wavelengths. UVA is present year round, at all times of day, and is unaffected by a cloudy day.

UVA:

Most of us are exposed to large amounts of UVA throughout our lifetime. UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. Although they are less intense than UVB, UVA rays are 30 to 50 times more prevalent. They are present with relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can penetrate clouds and glass.

UVA, which penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, has long been known to play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling (photo aging), but until recently scientists believed it did not cause significant damage in areas of the epidermis (outermost skin layer) where most skin cancers occur. Studies over the past two decades, however, show that UVA damages skin cells called keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. (Basal and squamous cells are types of keratinocytes.) UVA contributes to and may even initiate the development of skin cancers.

UVA is the dominant tanning ray, and we now know that tanning, whether outdoors or in a salon, cause cumulative damage over time. A tan results from injury to the skin’s DNA; the skin darkens in an imperfect attempt to prevent further DNA damage. These imperfections, or mutations, can lead to skin cancer.

Tanning booths primarily emit UVA. The high-pressure sunlamps used in tanning salons emit doses of UVA as much as 12 times that of the sun. Not surprisingly, people who use tanning salons are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. According to recent research, first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.

UVB:

UVB, the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, tends to damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. It plays a key role in the development of skin cancer and a contributory role in tanning and photo aging. Its intensity varies by season, location, and time of day. The most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. However, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice, which bounce back up to 80 percent of the rays so that they hit the skin twice. UVB rays do not significantly penetrate glass.

Preventative Measures:

Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Do not burn.  Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.

For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.  Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.  See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

I definitely recommend that you do get outside and enjoy the great spring weather New England has to offer, just do not forget to use your sunscreen.

If you have any questions about this Blog, or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at:  drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

It’s Not Just About Vitamin C Anymore…Try Zinc this Fall!

With school back in session, so are all the GERMS that come with this time of year.  Fun times!  Generally speaking, most people reach for the bottle of Vitamin C if they feel a cold coming on this time of year, or to prepare in the event of a possible cold.  I am not saying that Vitamin C isn’t effective (as I do take it daily), but more and more studies are showing that Zinc has some very beneficial qualities when it comes to dealing with the common cold, also known as the rhinovirus.

Without going into great detail, and pulling multiple research studies at this time, some studies are showing that Vitamin C does not actually do much to prevent the common cold.  Sorry Airborne L.  Zinc, being the mineral that it is, seems to somehow interfere with the replication of the rhinovirus. Zinc influences the immune system in a few different ways.  Zinc helps the immune system recruit white blood cells for proper and better immune system function, helps reduce systematic inflammation in the body, and is also an antioxidant – not too shabby Mr. Zinc J.  Some studies that have also been done in the past few years have shown that people who started taking zinc after recently getting sick, had less severe symptoms from the cold, and the duration of the cold was not as long either.

Zinc is what they call a “trace element”.  The cells of our immune system rely on Zinc to function. If one is getting enough zinc into their diet, the T-cells and other immune cells in our bodies can be greatly affected.  Based on what Harvard Medical Researchers say, the suggested daily amount of Zinc is 15-25mg.  Taking in an excessive amount of this supplement can actually cause a reverse reaction on the body, and is usually best to follow the recommended daily amount, or the amount prescribed by your physician.

If you are a person interested in getting more Zinc into your diet naturally, chickpeas, kidney beans, mushrooms, crab and chicken, are all good sources of food where Zinc can be found.  Lozenges like Cold-Ez or syrups containing Zinc, can also help aid in support when you are not feeling well.  If you are a person who would prefer to supplement, or your doctor has told you to do so, Metagenics ( www.metagenics.com ) has a supplement called, Zinc A.G.

Zinc A.G. is a special formula with enhanced absorption to help better address zinc repletion in the body. I use the Metagenics brand for Zinc, and that is what we carry or you can order at or through our office.  I do not necessarily take Zinc all year around, but I do use it through out certain parts of the year to help fight off pesky germs, and when I may be training at a higher intensity or for a race and take as needed.  I do not find that Zinc really has any bad side effects either, other than it doesn’t smell the greatest.  Sometimes people can complain of nausea, but if I take most of my vitamins or supplements on an empty stomach, I do become nauseous regardless.  If you have any questions regarding Zinc or other supplements we carry in our office, or in general, please feel free to ask me when in the office, or email me anytime at: drv@performancehealthcenter.com.  Happy Back to School everyone, and so not ready for the summer to come to an end.

If you want to orderZinc A.G, or any of Metagenics products on-line you can do so with this link: Order Metagenics NOW!