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There Is New Evidence That Lutein Can Protect Us From Skin Cancer And UL Light

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the CDC. The two most common types, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are highly treatable forms of the disease. The third most common form of the disease, melanoma is the most dangerous form of the disease. This is common among young people and 60-65% of melanomas are attributed to expose to UV light. The CDC also reported that over 8000 people died from this form of cancer in 2005.

There are some things that can increase the risk of coming down with skin cancer. If your family has a history of the disease, if you have blond or red hair, a light complexion or a history of being susceptible to sunburn at an early age. These people should take extra precautions when exposed to sunlight.

During the summer months, when people want to be out enjoying the weather is when we are at most risk. Ultraviolet light is an invisible form of light and comes mainly from the sun and tanning beds. This is the time that we want to protect ourselves from the damaging effects of UV light and skin cancer. Due to recent studies there is good news of a natural way that we can help protect our skin. A substance named lutein has been found to help us do this from the inside.

Lutein has long been known for its ability to protect the eyes from age related macular degeneration also known as AMD. Now there is exciting news that it can protect us from the effects of UV light and skin cancer.

Lutein is found in some of the foods that we eat. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale contain large amounts. It can also be found in egg yolks. Including foods such as these in your diet will help provide you with lutein. Lutein is not produced by the body; therefore it must come from diet and supplementation.

A recent study on luteins’ ability to protect us from UV light, and skin cancer, was done at Harvard University and headed by Dr. Salvador Gonsalez. He is quoted as saying, “Lutein has been widely recognized for its eye health benefits for several years. But, our data is the first of its kind to suggest that lutein may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer. Dr. Gonsalez went on to say "In addition, these data suggest that lutein protects the skin against damage caused by exposure to UVB light, further validating our position that lutein is a critical component to overall skin health".

In addition to using a good sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and making sure you are getting enough lutein from nutritional sources, there are some other things you can do to protect yourself and your family from UV light.

1. If you are going to be in the sun for any length of time always wear a good pair of wrap around UV blocking sunglasses. This will protect your eyes from UV light which can cause cataracts and AMD which is an irreversible form of blindness.

2. As parents, always protect your children’s skin from sunburn. Studies have shown that even one sunburn can increase your chance of skin cancer later in life.

3. When using sunscreen always check the expiration date. Most have a shelf life of 3 years or less.

4. Consumption of 6 mg. per day is recommended. This can be either through diet or supplementation.

5. Find some shade during the hottest hours of the day.

6. Wear protective clothing to cover the skin. A wide brim hat will also help protect the head, neck and shoulders.

Exposure to sunlight also provides us with some of the vitamins that we need for our bodies to function properly. A recent study found that over 70% of children in the United States were vitamin D deficient. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight should be done in moderation and with the appropriate precautions. Enjoy your summer.

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