As my friend said to me “pain is only temporary, but chicks dig scars”

I hope that is the case, as a friend said to me jokingly “chicks dig scars” ’cause I have me a shiny new one on my chest. Had an inflamed   red patch on my chest, which on biopsy, was  basal cell carcinoma; e.g., skin cancer.

Yes, had been meaning to get it looked at, but it looked like classic  actinic keratosis (a type of skin damage due to radiation/sun exposure) which can over time, convert to cancer, but recently started looking more inflamed… Usually converts to a more malignant type then your basic basal cell, which is especially non malignant.

As scary as the C word is, shouldn’t be much drama, and I  had it removed under just a local at doctors office (my friend the plastic surgeon) and get looked over once a year by a Derm. It is a good sized scar however as it was a pretty big patch.

I do have a few other spots of  actinic keratosis, which will get taken care of with Imiquimod (Aldara) cream.

I spent a lot of time on boats, the ocean, working out doors, etc as a kid, sans any sun screen (hey, it was the 70s and 80s, we didn’t know any better…) and experience with medical related radiation, but I have avoided lying in the sun and always use sun screen.

Interesting to note, there is a big debate currently on the causes of skin cancers, and some very mainstream scientists simply not agreeing with the simple sunlight exposure = skin cancer. Writing in The Army Times:

“This is the same sun-phobic message we’ve been getting from dermatologists for more than 40 years,” said Michael Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine.

Holick, who’s written several books and conducted hundreds of peer-reviewed studies on sun exposure and vitamin D, is at the forefront of a growing number of health and medical professionals who are questioning conventional wisdom when it comes to the dark side of the sun.

Holick argues that what others call “damage” to skin from light tanning is more like sore muscles after a good workout.

“Mother Nature designed us for sun exposure,” Holick said. “You shouldn’t go out and bake, by any means, but you can get a mild tan without significantly increasing your chances of getting cancer.”

Holick notes that studies suggest those who work indoors have higher rates of skin cancer than those who work outside in the sun all day. Meanwhile, skin cancer rates are climbing faster than a Fourth of July thermometer, even as more Americans are slathering on more and more sunscreen.

All this, however, comes as levels of vitamin D have been plummeting.
‘D’ for deficient

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that more than three in four Americans are in short supply of vitamin D.

“We found a marked increase in vitamin D deficiency over the past two decades,” said lead researcher Adit Ginde, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

Low levels of vitamin D can lead to weak bones, heart disease, diabetes, infections, and a variety of cancers and other ugly stuff. In short: The body needs it. And where do you get it? A few foods and supplements are a good start, but it’s the sun that really cranks it out.

“Since sunlight is the body’s major source of vitamin D, increases in sunscreen, sun avoidance and overall decreased outdoor activity, while successful in reducing skin cancers, has probably reduced vitamin D levels in the population,” Ginde said.
Balanced approach

“This is a real controversy right now,” said Michael Murphy, a former Army dermatologist who now runs his own skin cancer clinic in the Indianapolis area.

Funny, I had just started doing some research on this topic, and had no idea how personal that research would be…There’s a simple blood test to see if one had enough active vitamin D in their system, which I will request next time I for blood work me thinks….

So, lesson here is, if you have any red spots, etc you are not sure what it is (acne, etc) get it checked out. There are many things that are not cancer (e.g., various keratosis, moles, etc), that left there long enough, can become malignant, so it’s worth getting them removed before they can convert. I, being busy, etc, etc, let it sit there too long…

For those interested to find out what their vitamin D status is, request a blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D, with vitamin D proponents as a major disease fighter recommending at least 50 ng/ml

Merry X Mass and all that…

11 Comments
  1. Rob McElhenney 10 years ago

    Will,
    I have read various sources saying that regular, moderate exposure to the sun will decrease the risk of melanoma but may increase the risk of basal and squamous cell carcinomas.
    This past Spring and Summer I started getting progressively longer sun exposure until I was at around 15 minutes per day around midday and any exposure after that was with more clothing or sunscreen.
    For a long time, I had avoided tanning beds, but a neighbor of mine purchased on recommended by the Vitamin D council that produces UVB, UVA, and visible red light, with a UVB:UVA of around 1:9, and he offered me the chance to use it whenever I wanted to do so. To help keep my vitamin D levels up, I started to use it for sessions of around 6-8 minutes (3-4 minutes each front and back, since it is a stand-up model) total 3 times a week.
    I am generally on the paler end of the spectrum, but still get a mild tan when my UV exposure is progressive and kept moderate overall. To the best of your knowledge, do you think that I should cease with the tanning lamp and revert to supplementing with oral cholecalciferol supplementation to maintain optimal vitamin D levels?
    P.S. Chicks definitely dig nutrition gurus with scars. I want to wish you a merry Christmas, your best year yet in 2010, and success for many decades to come!

    • Author
      Will Brink 10 years ago

      Rob, I’m still of the opinion that moderate sunlight is net healthy overall. I also think one (including me!) should pay closer attention to their D status (which can be checked via a cheap blood test) and make sure they are getting enough vite D, with recent studies suggesting much higher intakes may be required to get optimal blood levels. I get 1000IUs of D3 in the multi I take, but after doing some additional research, will raise it to 5-7000 IU.

  2. Gus Gilbert 10 years ago

    Will,
    In addition to your Imiquimod cream, try drinking a cup of strong black hot tea and eating one whole small lemon/lime or other citrus peel. Try and get organic citrus or at least try to wash it really good because citrus is heavily pesticided. Also, let the tea cool a little before drinking it. Check this study out for citrus peel/black tea skin cancer prevention and I congratulate you on continuing to make some D with moderate sunshine:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11527506?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_SingleItemSupl.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=1&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

  3. BIG A 10 years ago

    wording/typo here “their system, which I will request next time I for blood work me thinks….” ????
    Good thing you got it early and were paying attention..where are the pics of the scar??????
    I get vitamin d in my multi and with my calcium supplement…its right around 1200mgs per day for supplements and who knows how much more (prob not a WHOLE lot) added from diet…. I dont get much sun exposure right now (home bound being a caretaker – dont worry got my garage turned into a gym!!!)….
    I do have access to a tanning bed though (the girlfriend) and have often wondered if I should jump in there for 10 minutes a few times a week…and if it would help vitamin d levels…???????

  4. Author
    Will Brink 10 years ago

    BigA, me an typos go together like white on rice…pic of scar is still kinda ugly, so maybe in the future…tanning bed would probably raise D levels, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to go about it. You may want to increase your D intakes via a D3 supplement. Also read the article I linked to which also has some tanning bed comments.

  5. Jack 10 years ago

    Will,
    I’ve heard that sunscreen is the cause of skin cancer, as it is made out of carcinogens. Is there any truth to that?

  6. makster 10 years ago

    My father had the same issue a couple years ago. He has always done a lot of hunting and fishing. When he was 72 he had some spots on his neck, ears and nose. He went in and had them removed. The Dr. said is was from all the sun exposure and it just had caught up with him.
    Back in his day (as he says) they did’nt have sunscreen or even care about it. Now he knows and uses it, so the problem hopefully does’nt come back.
    His scares were on his nose,ears and neck. Not pretty. I doubt the chicks would have dug it.

  7. Mike 9 years ago

    Vitamin D deficiency indicated with Multiple Sclerosis

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      It's interesting to note vitamin D deficiencies are associated to many diseases. I was just talking to a doc I know about the vite D and MS association. Also see my article on sarcopenia which has some discussion on vite D.

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      It's interesting to note vitamin D deficiencies are associated to many diseases. I was just talking to a doc I know about the vite D and MS association. Also see my article on sarcopenia which has some discussion on vite D.

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      It's interesting to note vitamin D deficiencies are associated to many diseases. I was just talking to a doc I know about the vite D and MS association. Also see my article on sarcopenia which has some discussion on vite D.

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