Skin cancer is on the rise and causes a lot of fear in many people – especially because traditional skin cancer treatments can be so harmful and invasive. Let’s explore some natural options to consider instead.
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Myths & Truth about Sun and Skin Cancer
It’s no surprise that people are afraid to leave their houses and expose themselves to the sun without wearing sunscreen. There are a lot of myths about sun, skin cancer and sunscreen. Here’s just a sample of what most people are told about sunbathing: (1)
- The most common cancer in the United States is skin cancer.
- Skin cancer cases have outranked all other types of cancers combined in the past 30 years.
- 20 percent of Americans will, at some point in their lives, develop skin cancer.
- Every 57 minutes a person will die from melanoma.
- Approximately 90 percent of melanomas can be linked back to UV radiation (ultraviolet radiation) and sun exposure.
- To reduce the risk of developing melanoma by half, you need to use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more every day.
On a personal level, I have serious problems with the presentation of this type of data being widely dispersed by global agencies and healthcare authorities. Three specific things make me greatly concerned:
- First, we must establish that the sun is not the major cause of skin cancer. In fact, many physicians misdiagnose stage I melanoma, saying that benign lesions are melanoma. A recent study in the British Journal of Dermatology (2) has already proven this. (3)
- Next, everyone needs to have an adequate amount of vitamin D to survive, and full-body sun exposure is the best way to do this.
- Finally, “Every major public health authority – the FDA, National Cancer Institute and International Agency for Research on Cancer – has concluded that the available data do not support the assertion that sunscreens alone reduce the rate of skin cancer.” (4) This is according to the Environmental Working Group. It’s also important to mention that there are numerous toxic chemicals in sunscreen, and many of them have actually been linked to skin cancer. Shouldn’t this raise some important questions?
One of the most important questions it should raise is: Are poisonous sunblock creams and lotions actually the real cause of the rise in skin cancer?
Sort of makes you think, doesn’t it?
Skin Cancer Explained
By definition, the abnormal growth of skin cells is called skin cancer, and there are three major types:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
The most common type of skin cancer is BCC (basal cell carcinoma). This is a relatively harmless type of skin cancer. It occurs on the outermost layer of the skin, and it often looks like a red patch, scar, shiny bump, or an open sore. It rarely spreads or metastasizes past the main tumor site, so it is known to be a benign tumor. Approximately 3 million cases of BCC are diagnosed every year. (5)
When abnormal cells begin to grow uncontrollably and the upper layers of the skin start to be mutated, this is called squamous cell carcinoma or SCC. This type of carcinoma usually looks like scaly red patches or open sores. Characteristically, it is elevated and has a central hole. Sometimes it is called the “rat bite” tumor, and it may have a crust and possibly bleed, and if it is allowed to grow, it can cause death. Approximately 700,000 cases of this type of carcinoma are diagnosed every year, and it causes approximately 2,500 deaths each year as well.
Finally, there are melanomas, and these are the types of skin cancer that really scare people because they can be very fatal. The Skin Cancer Foundation says, “These cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA do damage to skin cells…triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.” (6) Melanomas usually look like moles, and they are brown or black. Some reports have said that they are pink, blue, red, white, and skin-colored, however. Approximately 10,000 Americans die every year from this type of cancer. Melanomas can be curable if they are detected early.
Understanding Skin Cancer Symptoms
The changes of the skin that are listed above and itching are the hallmarks of skin cancer, but there are other things to look for as well. Doctors recommend doing a head to toe check every once in a while to watch out for skin tumor ABCDE’s.
Try to find tumors that are symmetrical. You should be able to draw a line through the middle and have the two halves be relatively equal.
Look for tumors that have irregular or jagged borders. These may mean melanoma. Nonmalignant tumors will have borders that are smooth and regular.
Melanomas may be a variety of colors, so one color tumors are usually okay. If you have a tumor that is brown, tan, black, blue, red, or any combination of other colors, this should be alarming.
Skin cancers that are nonmalignant tend to be smaller than a quarter of an inch in diameter. You’ll notice that melanomas are larger than this.
If any new symptom arises and there is a change in elevation, size, color, crusting, bleeding, itching, or anything else, this should ring some alarm bells.
Get in touch with your natural health care provider as soon as possible if you see any of these indicators.
4 Natural Skin Cancer Treatments
There are five standard types of skin cancer treatments according to the National Cancer Institute (7).
- Radiation therapy
- Biologic therapy: Uses the patient’s immune system to fight off the cancer cells
- Photodynamic therapy: Uses a special laser light and drug to kill cancer cells
There are numerous complications and side effects to these types of skin cancer treatments, which is why natural approaches for various cancers may be better. I recommend:
1. Raspberry Seed Oil (8)
Fruit seeds are generally known to have cancer-fighting properties because they are rich in antioxidants. The seeds of black raspberries fight cancer cells, and they are known for their immune boosting properties. They actually target the tumor itself, which makes the oil of raspberry seeds especially helpful as an alternative for skin cancer treatments and prevention.
2. Eggplant Extract (9)
Cancer Letters published a study describing that keratosis, squamous cell carcinomas, and basal cell carcinoma have been clinically proven to be treated with a cream that has a 10 percent concentration of something called a solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (BEC). BEC has been used since 1825, and it is a wonderful remedy for benign skin cancers and malignant skin cancers. This plant family includes bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, and tomatoes.
3. Myrrh Oil
Myrrh has been used for the treatment of numerous diseases since recorded history. At one point, it was so precious that its value was equal to that of gold. It’s too bad, however, that only a little amount of research has been done to determine its actual medical benefits. But knowing that its history goes back to folk medicine thousands of years ago, we know it must be helpful. Myrrh is rich in sesquiterpenoid and curzerene. You can use it on all skin types in general, but if you tend to have sensitive skin, use myrrh essential oil with a carrier oil.
4. Frankincense Oil
The research world has been taken by storm by frankincense oil. It is similar to myrrh in that it has been used for thousands of years, and it is known to be extremely healing and extremely rare. Some major clinical studies have proven its ability to help treat bladder, skin, and breast cancers. 17 agents are active in frankincense, but researchers do not yet know which of these agents help treat tumors. We’re excited to see what they come up with so that we can know exactly how this oil really works and if it can be counted as one of the natural skin cancer treatments!