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7 Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer That Aren't Sunscreen Or A Hat

40-50 percent of Americans will eventually develop some form of skin cancer. Use the following strategies to prevent it from happening to you.

                
By Markham Heid, Prevention

You already know that sunscreen, protective clothing, and staying out of the sun during peak hours are your best defenses against deadly melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. But considering that 40-50 percent of Americans will eventually develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime, you may want to step up your game even further. That's where the following strategies come in.
          
[post_ads]"None of these can replace sunscreen or protective clothing, but they're steps you can take that offer additional protection," says Adam Friedman, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University. Read on to find out how to get that extra edge.  




Take this supplement.

                  
It's not exactly a "sunscreen pill," but taking a supplement called Heliocare (Buy now: $23, amazon.com) before heading to the beach might reduce your skin's reactions to UVB rays (the kind that make you burn). It contains polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE)—a substance from fern trees—and there's some decent research to back it up, says Friedman. It seems to work by helping the DNA in your skin resist the kinds of sun damage-triggered changes that allow cancerous cells to form.
   
One recent study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found people who used this supplement experienced less skin damage after they were exposed to UVB rays. For best results, research suggests that you should take it the day before you're going to be out in the sun as well as the day of that picnic or beach volleyball tournament. (If you want to further shield your skin from harmful rays, make sure you try sun protective clothing.) 




Be wary of windows.

              
You might assume the windows in your home and car effectively block ultraviolet light. Not so, Friedman says. While your car's windshield deflects both UVA and UVB rays, its side windows repel only UVB light. UVA won't burn your skin, but it can give you cancer, Friedman says. And many home windows also only block UVB light—or no ultraviolet light at all, he adds. (Sunglasses can also protect against UVA and UVB rays—here are the cutest pairs on sale now.) 
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To protect yourself, you don't have to hole up in a dark basement; just don't lounge in direct light shining through your windows or skylights in the middle of the day. And if you drive all the time, consider a UV filter for your driver's-side window like this one.




Go easy on alcohol.

                               
Bad news for your next backyard BBQ or golf outing: "Alcohol seems to increase the impact of UV on the skin," Friedman says, though the exact mechanism isn't clear.

What about hitting the bar after the sun goes down? More research is needed, but a 2016 study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention suggests you should also be cautious about drinking indoors. The study found that every daily drink a person swallows increases the risk of melanoma by 14 percent, and white wine in particular seemed to be troublesome. The authors believe that alcohol may somehow interfere with the DNA-repair process in your skin.   




Be mindful of these meds.

           
Some prescription medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays, increasing your risk of damage and, in some cases, skin cancer, Friedman says. Some drugs to watch out for include the antibiotic doxycycline (Oracea, Monodox); a class of diuretics called thiazides (Lozol, Microzide, Zaroxolyn); and the antifungal drug voriconazole (VFend). But ask your pharmacist or read the warning information related to your meds to be sure. (Here are three other ways antibiotics can do more harm than good.) 
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Get more of this B3 vitamin.

             
You've heard of niacin, which is the most common form of vitamin B3. But another, rarer form of B3 called "nicotinamide" may help protect your skin, Friedman says. A 2015 study published in American Health and Drug Benefits found people at high risk for skin cancer who took a nicotinamide supplement (1,000 mg daily for a year) cut their risk for new basal and squamous cell carcinomas by 23 percent. (The one pictured above is $27 on amazon.com.) Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that nicotinamide supplementation provides skin cancer benefits.
         
[post_ads]Nicotinamide seems to work by bolstering DNA repair after sun damage, and it's generally safe. But talk to your doctor before taking this (or any) supplement to make sure it's OK for you to try. (These are the seven essential vitamins you need after age 40.)




Eat more garlic.

               
If your immune system is weak or compromised, you may be at elevated risk for skin cancer, according to a 2011 study from the British Journal of Dermatology. The likely reason: When your immune system is weakened, it might not be able to kill cancer or tumor cells in their earliest stages.
              
If you tend to get sick often, that's a sign your immune system may not be in tip-top shape. Along with exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, some foods are known immune-boosters. Eating more garlic, yogurt, and black and green tea might help

 
Read more from Prevention:

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Health Magazine: 7 Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer That Aren't Sunscreen Or A Hat
7 Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer That Aren't Sunscreen Or A Hat
40-50 percent of Americans will eventually develop some form of skin cancer. Use the following strategies to prevent it from happening to you.
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