Have you ever wondered how the food you eat affects your skin? Or why tanning bads are so bad for you? We did…so we caught up with Dr. Justin Piasecki, one of “American’s Most Beautiful Doctor’s” and founder of the world renowned Skin Cancer Center. Dr. Justin shared his advice on how you keep your skin looking and feeling great for years to come.
What are some of the best & worst foods for our skin?
First off, the best diet for skin health and appearance is one of moderation in all areas. That being said, foods containing vitamin A, E, C, folates, Omega-3 fatty acids, lycopene and selenium have all been shown to be important, helpful and very valuable for the skin.
Vitamin A (low sugar yogurt, carrots) helps decrease clogged pores and thus skin breakouts.
Vitamin E (almonds) is thought to assist the skin in UV protection.
Vitamin C (sweet potatoes) is an important cofactor in collagen synthesis and is a powerful antioxidant and can help decrease the appearance of wrinkles.
Folates (spinach) may play a role in protecting the skin through augmentation of DNA repair mechanisms.
Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, flaxseed oil) can help decrease the appearance of wrinkles and improve dry skin.
Lycopenes (tomatoes – particularly cooked ones) are important antioxidants and may have anti-aging effects by reducing free radicals.
Selenium (tuna) may help preserve elastin and thus decrease the rate of photo aging.
Foods to avoid include simple sugars and simple carbohydrates as these can increase clogging of pores and increase breakouts (white bread, lots of milk).
What’s wrong with tanning beds?
Tanning beds are to skin cancer what cigarettes are to lung cancer. Regular exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma (deadly form of skin cancer) by 75%.
How much sunlight should we get daily?
This question gets down to the difference between wants and needs. The minimum direct sunshine exposure required for appropriate and healthy Vitamin D metabolism is 15 minutes over the surface area of a person’s hands. However, I believe we should live life to the fullest and enjoy outdoor activities – just use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and reapply regularly (every 2-3 hours).
When should we see a dermatologist if we’re concerned about something on our skin?
If you are concerned about something you should see them right away. However, even if you aren’t concerned, you should have your total body surface area skin checked by either your dermatologist or family doctor at least every year.
What are some general tips to prevent skin cancer?
Prevention, prevention, prevention. Use common sense and be proactive. Skin cancer is extremely common. It is curable when caught early. So be proactive and look for it – examine your own skin every month on your birth day for an extra 10 minutes in the shower and be familiar with your own skin.
If any lesion starts to change, bleeds with minimal trauma, becomes a wound that won’t heal, etc, have your doctor look at it. Get into the habit of putting on sunscreen every day, and if outside for more than an hour straight, reapply it every 2 hrs.
Beyond that, enjoy your life! If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, treat it properly with the best treatment by the best doctor you can find. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be averse to traveling if you need to. The most common forms of skin cancer affect the face more than any other site – don’t cut corners.
Lots of chemicals in skincare products have been linked to cancer. What should we look for (or stay away from) in a product that would protect our skin without harming our health?
Parabens, triethanolamine and PABA have all been shown in mice studies to have some adverse effects. However, the risk in humans is unclear. Big picture: there is inherent risk to living. We get in a car and drive to the supermarket – we’re taking a risk of getting in a fatal car accident. I would argue though that the risk of direct and cumulative UV exposure far outweighs the unclear and likely very small risks associated with the use of any sunscreen.