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What Causes Skin Cancer?
With an explosion of skin cancer cases over the past twenty years, learning about how to prevent and treat skin cancer is more important today than ever. It is estimated that one million Americans are diagnosed with some form of the disease every year. The problem is so widespread that the National Cancer Institute has stated that close to half of the population who reach the age of sixty-five, will develop at least one type of skin cancer, with fair-skinned people being the most vulnerable.
The primary culprit of skin cancer is the sun. Ultraviolet rays, whether they are UVA or UVB rays, alter the genetic material in cells. The skin then becomes not only damaged, but unable to regenerate properly. Normally, when skin cells are harmed they die and peel away, so new cells can form; but, when this natural process is distorted by UV rays, damaged cells reproduce themselves, which causes a vicious cycle of increased vulnerability and exposure.
There are three main types of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma, the least common but most serious kind, cannot be treated with natural remedies for skin cancer alone. Medical care is essential for proper treatment. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which make up the majority of cases, can be easily treated in the doctor's office. Herbal medicine and nutritional therapy can be used to help the body overcome the disease and to help prevent more problems.
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Natural Skin Cancer Treatment
Through nutrition and useful skin cancer herbs the more mild forms of this disease can be addressed, in conjunction with regular medical care. A program for healing includes taking a number of supplements to boost the body's natural functioning as well as herbs for skin cancer, and to eat a more focused diet. Taking coenzyme Q10 increases cellular oxygenation; essential fatty acid supplements, such as primrose or flaxseed oil, protect cells; garlic can be taken for a stronger immune system; and selenium acts as a specific antioxidant agent against UV damage.
A number of vitamins are beneficial both in the diet and in supplement form for treating and preventing skin cancer. Vitamin A is probably the most important, as an antioxidant it is known to stop free radical damage due to UV rays. In high doses, vitamin A can be harmful, but taken as beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, this nutrient is always safe. Also, applying vitamin A skin care cream topically is a useful way to protect and nourish damaged skin. The B-complex vitamins are needed in sufficient quantities for normal cell division and function; vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, and boosts the immune system; vitamin E helps with tissue repair.
A diet for skin cancer would include foods rich in these nutrients. It should be low in fatty and difficult to process foods such as cheese and red meat, and extremely high in fiber and antioxidant rich foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables, cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables, and beta carotene rich sweet potatoes and carrots should be consumed regularly, if not daily. Also, medicinal mushrooms — maitake, reishi, and shiitake — are known to inhibit the growth and spread of cancerous tumors.
Herbs for skin cancer work by cleansing and strengthening the body, and by providing anticancer phytochemicals. Alfalfa, dandelion, oat straw, rose hips, and burdock are all useful herbs for tissue repair. Burdock and red clover purify the blood; ginger and nettles tone the liver and may slow the spread of cancer cells by balancing blood composition. Astragalus is a very effective herb for skin cancer as it actually generates anticancer cells while at the same time enhancing the immune system. For damaged and burned skin, products with tea tree oil and aloe vera are good choices for healing.
Natural remedies for skin cancer can heal, prevent repeat occurrences, and in many cases cure, but they should be used in conjunction with professional advice. Always talk to your doctor if you feel that you may have a symptom of skin cancer — new or changing moles, or strange growths of any sort on the skin, especially those that blister without healing. Removal of the damaged tissue can almost always take care of the disease in mild cases.
Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healing Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone." Eleventh Edition (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
photo credit: Oi Max
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