Summer officially arrives later this month accompanied by longer days and increased ultraviolet exposure.
For those who spend a lot of time indoors and/or have a history of skin cancer, several oral supplements might be worth considering.
Polypodium Leucotomos (PL) is a fern extract that has been shown to have photo-protective activity. It is marketed as Heliocare and Fernblock and can be taken orally in the morning and prior to extended sun exposure. Vitamin C is also known to have photo-protective qualities. Rather than supplements, a diet rich in multicolored fruits and vegetables is advised. Finally, Australian researchers recently released a study abstract revealing that Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, significantly reduced the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers among people who have had a previous basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. This double blind, placebo controlled study found that those who took 500 mg of Nicotinamide twice daily reduced their risk of developing another skin cancer by 23%. Supplements should only be considered adjunctive measures, not substitutes for a complete sun protection regimen including:
- Minimize direct sun exposure between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm
- Apply a broad spectrum sun screen with at least SPF 30 and reapply every few hours of exposure. To ensure adequate coverage, an average adult should apply a shot glass full of product to cover all exposed areas.
- Wear sun protective clothing. Several online companies (Coolibar, Sun Precautions) sell SPF rated hats and clothing.
- Wear a broad rimmed hat.
- Protect your eyes with UV protected sun glasses