Protecting Yourself From Cancer…

Posted by Den on February 20, 2012 in Stuff Dad Didn't Teach You..., Survival, Survive, Thrive |


The goal of this site is to teach you the things your dad should have but didn’t… But it’s easy to  get caught up in  crazy adventures and lose sight of the fact that often our survival hinges on day-to-day habits and activities… When most people think of “survival”, they worry about the short-term killers… Being shot by an attacker, having a semi run them off the freeway, maybe being crushed in an earth-quake or having to fight off sharks and mountain lions (at the same time)…

As much as the media builds up a lot of fear around these types of things, (especially the shark-cougar thing), these things are not what is most likely to take you out of the game. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes… these are statistically much more likely to be a deadly risk to you…

Which is why today I’m going to talk to you about a long-term survival play: protecting yourself from Cancer.

This subject really hits home for me, as it’s something that is on my radar in a big way… You see, my dad died of skin cancer when I was 22.  Melanoma is a very aggressive form of cancer, and for him it started with a mole that metastasized (turned nasty). This is an easy thing to recognize and prevent, if you know how… And that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today.

Since my dad’s passing, I’ve been to countless dermatologists, and had probably 20+ moles removed from my body. (Sadly, we’re a moley-group in my family).  In my many visits, I’ve learned what dermatologists call the “A,B,C,D’s” of detecting a potentially threatening mole. When you look at a mole, look for these 4 things.  Any one by itself isn’t cause for much alarm.  Two  or more should raise a red flag. 3 or more and you should go see a dermatologist immediately.  Obviously if you see a mole with all 4, get it removed and tested ASAP.

The ABCD’s of Melanoma Skin Cancer (How To Spot A Mole-Gone-Bad)
(images taken from the American Melanoma Foundation)

A is for Asymmetrical with Skin Cancer and MelanomaA stands for Asymmetrical… Most moles are circular and thus symmetrical.  If you have a mole that is NOT circular, but instead has an odd shape, this is a warning sign…


B is for Border in melanomasB stands for Border… Most moles have a smooth, even border around their outer perimeter.  If you have a mole with a rough, uneven border, take note.


C is for Color with Melanoma and skin cancerC stands for Color… Moles that are all one color are considered lower risk of being malignant (evil).  By contrast a mole with several colors is suspicious…


D is for Diameter with melanoma and skin cancerstands for Diameter… This is a newer addition that was told to me more recently (I used to just use the ABC’s listed above).  Diameter means how wide the entire the mole is… Anything over 6mm is of concern…


Now it’s impossible to tell what event or series of causes trigger a cancer to develop… But there are things that we know for sure… Prolonged exposure to the radiation of the sun without proper protection can be a huge contributing factor.  The UV-A and UV-B light tends to trigger cancerous developments on the skin, including causing moles to “go bad”. However this can largely be prevented by using UV-protecting clothing and sun-block.

Protecting Yourself From The Sun

Some of my all-time favorite shirts are Mountain Hardwear long-sleeve adventure shirts.  They’re made of great materials, have zippered pockets, mesh panels that let you breathe in warm weather, sleeves that roll up and button, and best of all, they’re UPF 30, providing sun protection.


Another one of my favorite outdoor clothing lines are the pants and shirts by Bear Grylls / Craghoppers.  Again, they have UPF 40+, as well as great stretch panels, non-wrinkling materials, zippered pockets (keep keys and other things from falling out) and the shirts again have the mesh venting.  Their pants, made of very durable stretch-materials are by far my favorite… (I’m wearing a pair right now).  And as I said, they provide solid UV protection without even putting on sunscreen.

I have a friend who just had surgery on the top of his head for melanoma… Not fun at all… Remember, just because you may have hair up there, you’re not necessarily getting the protection you need…

Anti-cancer headwearA good hat will not only protect your head and scalp, it will also protect your neck, ears and face from the sun, as well as rain and wind.  My favorite adventure hat is the Outdoor Research “Seattle Sombrero”… It’s made with GoreTex, water repellent  easily shaped so it doesn’t look dorky, sides can fold up like a cowboy hat, and looks pretty cool to boot.


Speaking of sunscreen, I did some research to try and find the best available… Here are the top SPF 30 sunscreen lotion and spray, as rated by ConsumerReports:

All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30
– Rated Consumer Report’s best SPF30 sunscreen lotion (88 out of 100 points). This provides excellent UVA and UVB protection. An important aspect of this sunblock is that it’s Oxybenzone and Paraben-Free, (no point putting on sun-lotion if it has carcinogens in the cream).  And for an adventure-seeker, the protection was shown to last even with full immersion.

I am, by nature, somewhat lazy (and I’m not horribly flexible in the “reach your own back” category)… Which is why whenever possible I opt for spray on sunblock.  Consumer Reports rated Copertone’s Sport High Performance Ultra Sweatproof spray as the best spray-sunblock… It’s waterproof and sweat-proof.  When i don’t have to worry about package size constraints, this is what I use.

Not Looking Like A Vampire

There’s no denying it: when you’re tan, you generally look better… Your physique looks more “cut” and it’s usually a healthier look (despite the fact that it’s actually much less healthy).

Well, I like being tan, but I’ve learned to avoid tanning beds and laying out in the sun just to get tan… I expose myself to enough sunlight in my daily adventures, and it’s just not worth the risk of cancer…

So I’ve learned to use self-tanning lotion in the winter when I’m getting a little to pasty-white.  (The vampire look was never a good one for me).  After looking around a lot for self-tanners that didn’t make me stink like a chemical experiment, I’ve found two great things.

One is a self-tanning lotion that you can put on your face daily.  It’s all natural and does a really good, natural job without getting TOO colored or looking at all fake. I read a ton of reviews on Amazon, and the “Nature’s Gate Glow” lotion not only had the best reviews I could find (at this writing, 35 reviews with 24 5-star and 7 4-star reviews) but it was also quite affordable.


The other self-tanner that I use after a ton of research is the Banana Boat Summer Color lotion… It has a tiny bit more odor (but nothing like they used to be) and gives a nice deep tan which adjusts to your existing skin tone.  The tan was very natural, and I saw a huge difference after only one application.  Again, the reviews were awesome on Amazon (110 reviews with 73 5-star and 18 4-star).  This one works well for the body, too dark for the face in my opinion… it also has pigment in it so you can see where you’ve applied it and where you haven’t so you don’t have missing spots.  You get an instant “fake” tan from the pigment, and when you shower it off, it’s just the tan from the ingredients causing your skin pigment to change to brown.  The next morning you’re pretty nicely tan.  Again, this was not only very highly reviewed, but also quite inexpensive (at the time of this writing, 3 bottles for under 30 bucks).

There you have it. Of course, eating anti-oxidants, avoiding deep fried foods, and not sleeping in an x-ray chamber with your head inside a microwave is also highly recommended.

P.S.: Please be advised, I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice… Please consult your physician before making any decisions regarding your health.  This site is for entertainment purposes only. 


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