Skin cancers are less frequently observed in African-American patients. Most likely, this decreased frequency is due to the photoprotection conferred by the melanin in darkly pigmented skin. But despite the lower risk to this patient population, African-American patients who develop skin cancers are faced with an increased morbidity and mortality, which is often a result of delayed diagnosis in this patient population.
In this column, I’ll take a closer look at the types of skin cancers that most often affect this patient population and discuss typical presentations of lesions in African-American patients.
Read the full article online here or click the image below to read the full PDF.
We all know that antioxidants are great for your skin. They work by preventing free radical damage in the skin. For a really great explanation of free radicals and how they damage our skin, read my post here. But the quick summary is: antioxidants are good for us inside and out. They fight free radicals that can harm our skin. So where should we get our antioxidants? First, we can use products that contain antioxidants during the day. Antioxidants are especially useful in sunscreens. Second, we can include them in our diet. The department of agriculture lists the following as the top twenty antioxidant foods:
- Small red beans (dried) 11. Strawberries
- Blueberries (wild) 12. Red Delicious apples
- Red kidney beans (dried) 13. Granny Smith apples
- Pinto beans 14. Pecans
- Blueberries (cultivated) 15. Sweet cherries
- Cranberries 16. Black plums
- Artichoke hearts (cooked) 17. Russet potatoes (cooked)
- Blackberries 18. Black beans (dried)
- Prunes 19. Plums
- Raspberries 20. Gala apples
I love this list! Most foods on the list are obvious–lots of fruits and berries. But some are unexpected, like artichoke hearts, russet potatoes, and even pecans–the only nut to make the list.
We always hear that antioxidants are good for us, but you have probably wondered, “What exactly do antioxidants do?”. Well first, let me explain what free radicals are and how they harm our skin. Normally the molecules in our body have electrons in pairs. Many different things, such as sunlight or pollution, can make our molecules unstable and cause them to lose an electron. Free radicals are unstable molecules that only have one electron. To put it simply, these molecules desperately want to find another electron so that they can have a pair again, so they steal an electron from the nearest stable molecule. This new unstable molecule now steals an electron from another molecule to get an even pair of electrons. Doesn’t this sound like a bad reality dating show? Anyway, this process of stealing electrons from other molecules can eventually lead to cell damage.
This is where antioxidants come in to save the day. Antioxidants basically donate an electron to the free radical to make it stable. Antioxidants are stable whether they have one electron or two, so they protect our cells by donating electrons and stopping the free radical cascade. Vitamin E and Vitamin C are two of the most prevalent antioxidants present in our skin. Applying antioxidants topically can also help to stop free radical damage from sunlight and other causes. You can also get antioxidants from diets rich in fruits and vegetables. So stock up on these types of foods, wear sunscreen, and apply antioxidants and you will be well on your way to healthy radiant skin!