There was a great deal of research on skin cancer in 2017. Researchers looked at how skin cancer forms, how eating certain foods might help protect individuals from skin cancer, and how we might find news ways of diagnosing skin cancer earlier. The following are 10 newsworthy developments about skin cancer we learned in 2017.
Hydrochlorothiazide, a popular medication for blood pressure, might increase the risk of lip cancer, according to researchers in Denmark. They said that long-term use of the medication resulted in a significant increase in the risk of skin cancer. While they agree that this medication is considered an otherwise safe and effective treatment for controlling blood pressure, the risks should be weighed along with the benefits.
Despite the known risks, white, female college students continue to use indoor tanning facilities. When completing a survey, college students overwhelming agreed that indoor tanning can lead to premature aging and skin cancer and that this behavior was not safe. Knowing the dangers didn’t stop them from tanning, however, with almost 70 percent saying they would still want to get a tan even though it was bad for their skin.
One of the common characteristics of skin cancer is a brown or black lesion. Amelanotic melanoma, a type of skin cancer that lacks this coloration, can be harder to detect. Scientists at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center are working on a way to help improve detection of skin cancers that lack the brown or black color.
Traditionally, skin cancer is diagnosed through a biopsy, an invasive procedure that involves excising a portion of the lesion and then waiting while the tissue sample is sent to and analyzed by a laboratory. Researchers are currently working on a non-invasive imaging technique that could identify melanomas and basal cell carcinoma within minutes, in the doctor’s office.
Early detection of skin cancer is important. It is highly treatable in the early stages but can be deadly if not detected until advanced stages. Scientists at the University of Waterloo and the Sunnybrook Research Institute are developing an AI system that would analyze images of skin lesions and offer an objective analysis of a lesion, potentially diagnosing skin cancer earlier than with a more invasive biopsy.
Despite wider acceptance of sunscreen and informational campaigns on the dangers of UV exposure, skin cancer diagnoses are increasing. Researchers found that between the years 2000 and 2010, squamous cell carcinoma increased by 263 percent and basal cell carcinoma increased by 145 percent.
Scientists at Ohio State University found that daily consumption of tomatoes in mice decreased the risk of developing skin cancer by half. Interestingly, male mice had a significantly decreased risk; however, there was no significant decrease for the female mice. It is believed that lycopene, the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, an antioxidant, was responsible for the decrease in skin cancer rates.
Skin cancer is caused by overexposure to UV rays. Scientists at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine believe they have found the process and genetic mutation responsible for skin cancer. According to their research, when melanocytes reach a threshold of genetic mutations, they grow a tumor. Using this information, the researchers hypothesized which gene might prevent this from occurring. When this gene was removed from mice, they did not develop melanoma.
The potential benefits of eating dark chocolate include lowering cholesterol levels, improving brain function, and lowering your risk of developing heart disease. But could it also lower your risk of developing skin cancer? According to a study completed at the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, women who consumed dark chocolate were not as sensitive to UV rays of the sun and could better withstand UV damage.
Researchers at Brown University found that every 10 gram increase in daily alcohol consumption increased the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The researchers completed a meta study of 307 previous studies and found that alcohol consumption might increase the risk of developing these two common types of skin cancer.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.