Melanoma is the deadliest of all types of skin cancer. Unfortunately, too many people delay treatment, even when they know they have a potentially life-threatening disease.
The lifetime risk of getting melanoma, according to the American Cancer Society, is about one in 40 for Caucasians, one in 200 for Hispanics, and one in 1,000 for African-Americans. The average age of people diagnosed with melanoma is 62, but it can begin at almost any age.
Melanoma starts with one cell or a small group of cells. The pathway that those cells take to ultimately become skin cancer is complex. Lots of things have to go wrong, but they can go wrong quickly (within months) or over a period of years. Though the average age of diagnosis is 62, the process of developing the disease may have begun as early as childhood.
Risk Factors Those in the high-risk category for melanoma are fair-skinned and sun-sensitive, although anyone can develop the condition. Redheads, blondes, and people with blue or green eyes are especially susceptible. The more moles, large moles, and unusual moles you have, the higher your risk. You are more likely to have the condition if your parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles have had a melanoma. Your chances increase if you have had a previous melanoma, a basal cell carcinoma, or a squamous cell carcinoma.
In addition, the events or conditions below also make you more likely to develop melanoma:
What Does It Look Like? The distinguishing characteristic of melanoma is uncontrolled growth of cells called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, which is one of the body’s coloring agents. Most melanomas have a black or blue-black color, and they appear abnormal and unsightly.
How Is it Diagnosed? Early detection and treatment is key. The deeper a melanoma has penetrated, the deadlier it becomes. If it reaches beyond lymph nodes in the immediate area, the five-year survival rate is only 18 percent.
A medical history, biopsies, and imaging tests are used to diagnose melanomas. They are classified and treated according to stages of development. The American Society of Clinical Oncology provides these details about each stage of melanoma. Each of the four stages has subgroups, which further describe the melanoma’s status.
Stage 0: Melanoma cells found only in the outer layer of the epidermis.
Stage I: Primary melanoma is still only in the skin and is very thin.
Stage II: The melanoma is thicker than in stage I; extends through the epidermis and further into the dermis; slightly higher chance of spreading.
Stage III: The melanoma has spread through the lymphatic system, either to a lymph node located near where the cancer started or to a skin site on to a lymph node.
Stage IV: The melanoma has spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body.
Treatment: Surgery Early-stage melanomas can be removed by simple procedures at a dermatologist’s office. In some cases, the entire area can be excised (cut out) during a biopsy without further treatment. Melanomas that have spread beyond the surface of the skin are more difficult to treat with surgery. In Mohs micrographic surgery—used for delicate areas, such as the nose, lips, and ears—the surgeon uses a microscope to examine the tissue and excises the growth layer by layer until only healthy tissue remains.
Treatment: Medications Chemotherapy, in pill or intravenous form, destroys cancer cells for several months, but the treatment does not yet have a record of curing melanomas.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported that a combination of ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo) improved more than 70 percent of melanoma patients and could change future treatment options.
Radiation Radiation can kill cancer cells, including those produced in melanoma, but it is not considered a cure because it is not always 100 percent successful. A common side effect is fatigue that usually subsides after treatment has been completed. The American Cancer Society lists the following uses of radiation in cases of melanoma:
There are more steps you can take to lower your risk of melanoma than for any other type of cancer, including: 1) using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50; 2) avoiding unnecessary exposure to the sun; 3) wearing clothes that protect your arms, legs, face, neck, and ears; 4) conducting monthly self-exams; and 5) scheduling an annual exam with a dermatologist.
Things are about to get real toasty.
Fact: Carbs aren’t bad for you. There, I said it.
Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients and act as a principal energy source in our bodies. They provide the body with glucose, which is converted by insulin into fuel used to support bodily functioning and physical activity.
Carbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years, though, which is highly correlated with the upsurge in popularity of the ketogenic diet: a diet plan that emphasizes eating lots of high-fat foods and almost no carbohydrates.
But according to the U.S. News and World Report, a much smarter way to eat is to follow the Mediterranean diet. In fact, they named this regime (more like a lifestyle) the healthiest diet overall. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by consuming plenty of produce, fish, olive oil, and—drum roll, please—bread.
Of course, not all types of bread (and not all forms of carbs) are created equal. The healthiest breads are made from whole grains, meaning the kernels still contain the bran, germ, and endosperm. These components house most of the beneficial nutrients that we get from grains, like fiber, vitamin B, zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper. White bread and other loaves made from refined, highly processed grains are much lower in nutritional quality.
But under the whole grain umbrella, the specific style of bread that nutrition experts are flagging as being ahead of the rest nutrient-wise is sprouted grain. Sprouted grains are basically whole grains that have started to germinate, which makes nutrients in grains more readily available.
“The germination process has a direct impact on the nutritional attributes of the seed and grain, which means sprouted grain bread may have some unique benefits over traditional whole grain breads,” says Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, the Plant-Powered Dietitian. “Germination increases the bioavailability of nutrients such as phosphorus, iron, zinc, calcium, manganese, potassium, magnesium, folic acid. It also increases the level of vitamins A, C and amino acids, fiber, and phenolic compounds. Basically, it makes the nutrients easier to digest,” she adds.
But before you run to the grocery store to stock up on sprouted grain bread, keep in mind that the term “sprouted grain” can be used as a marketing tool and isn’t regulated (plus it’s mega-trendy), so follow these key rules for finding an *actually* healthy loaf:
Still stumped? We’ve got you! These are a few of our favorite nutrient-rich sprouted grain bread breads you can buy.
This article originally appeared on Realsimple.com
Women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week were able to avoid memory problems for an average of 2.5 years longer than women who didn’t regularly eat berries, according to a study published in the Annals of Neurology. Researchers attributed the beneficial effects of berries to flavonoids, antioxidants that are believed to combat the inflammation that has been linked to cognitive decline.
Women’s Nutrition Connection, Vol NC-18
We can do many things to help minimize the uncomfortable and often disabling effects of inflammation. A healthy lifestyle including diet, exercise, and good sleep habits are powerful tools in fighting swelling and other side effects.
Here are several ways from Dr. Wayne Andersen’s Dr. A’s Habits of Health book to refer to when trying to stave off inflammation.