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Spot The Difference Between An Ordinary And Cancerous Mole: 14 Ways To Help You Prevent Melanoma

Spot The Difference Between An Ordinary And Cancerous Mole: 14 Ways To Help You Prevent Melanoma

Skin cancer rates in the US have increased by around 600% since 1950. Melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer), accounts for around 3% of all skin cancer types, resulting in about 8000 deaths per year. This rise is largely attributed to environmental factors, and increased exposure to UV light. Consequently, skin cancer has become the most common form of cancer for young people.

Luckily, skin cancer is easy to prevent, and is highly treatable if caught early. This article helps to shed some light on how to prevent and detect skin cancer, debunking the various myths about it’s causes, and identifying the early symptoms.

The first step to identifying melanoma is to look at any existing moles you may have. Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups.

Most moles appear in early childhood and during the first 30 years of a person’s life. It is normal to have between 10-40 moles by adulthood. As the years pass, moles usually change slowly, becoming raised and/or changing color. Often, hairs develop on the mole. Some moles may not change at all, while others may slowly disappear over time.

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The graph below helps to identify whether a mole may be cancerous or not, pay attention to the symmetry, border, color, and size of each mole, and whether it has changed in appearance over time.

Identifying melanoma

    There are a number of ways to prevent skin cancer altogether, following these simple steps can massively reduce your chances of developing the disease.

    1) Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 50

    Sunscreen is essential in preventing skin cancer. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen of at least SPF 50, anything below this can massively compromise your skin safety. The benefits of wearing sunscreen are many, not only will it reduce your chances of getting skin cancer, but it will also protect you against sunburn, and moisturize your skin. Many sunscreens contain Vitamin E, which not only helps to block out UV rays, but also provides anti-oxidant and anti-aging effects, improving the health of your skin drastically.

    2) Reapply sunscreen every two hours or so

    Be very liberal when applying sunscreen, ensure that it is regularly added, and applied to every part of the body, including the face, shoulders, arms, back, neck, legs and feet. Don’t be fooled into thinking that certain parts of your body won’t be affected by the sun.

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    3) Reapply sunscreen after going in the water

    Sunscreen loses it’s effectiveness over time and after going in the water. Anything that comes into contact with your skin can reduce the protective effect of sunscreen, so ensure you keep applying sunscreen throughout the day.

    4) Wear a hat with a wide brim

    Wearing a wide brimmed hat will provide you with additional protection from UV rays on your face and neck. This is especially important if you have little or no hair.

    5) Wear long-sleeved clothing

    Long-sleeved clothing massively helps to block out UV rays, and can be a great way to help minimize the risk of skin cancer and sunburn. Wearing light, long-sleeved clothing can help to keep you cool and protected, minimizing the chance of overheating, whilst maximizing protection from the sun.

    6) Wear sunglasses

    Highly tinted sunglasses help to protect your eyes and face from UV rays, and can also help you to see more clearly in the sun without squinting.

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    7) Check your whole body for moles

    Moles can appear anywhere on your body, including between your toes, or even on the soles of your feet. Ensure you check your whole body for raised parts, and use a hand mirror (or enlist a friend) to check parts of your body that are difficult to see. Consult the chart above to see if any such moles are potentially cancerous.

    8) Apply suncream regularly in places like New Zealand and Australia

    Skin cancer rates tend to be the highest in Ocianian countries like New Zealand and Australia. This is partly due to the hole in the ozone layer, meaning that more fewer UV rays are blocked out. If you are visiting or living in New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, or anywhere nearby, ensure you are very cautious to limit your sun exposure, and apply plenty of sunscreen.

    9) Remember that skin cancer is not always caused by the sun

    Skin cancer can develop with little or no exposure to UV rays. It is important to regularly check moles for abnormalities, even if you do not live in a sunny climate. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so do not assume that you are safe just because you haven’t been out in the sun.

    10) Avoid tanning beds

    There are many who erroneously believe that sunbeds do not cause skin cancer. The opposite is in fact true; using a sunbed just once a year can triple your chances of getting skin cancer. Consider spray tans as a healthier alternative.

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    11) Remember that keeping cool or hydrated will not keep you safe

    Often splashing in a pool or sitting with a fan will provide us with the comforting illusion that we are not burning. You are actually more likely to burn in water, because -not only does it strip the sunscreen off your skin- but the water reflects more light onto you. Keeping cool and drinking lots of water is definitely a good idea, but it will not protect you from UV rays.

    12) Remember that glass does not block out UV rays

    There are many rumors that stipulate that glass will protect you from UV rays. This is utterly untrue. Sitting behind a window or under a glass roof does nothing to prevent UV exposure unless it is heavily tinted, and even then the effect is minimal. This is important to remember if you are driving long distances in the sun, or sitting inside next to the window.

    13) Remember to apply sunscreen, even when you are skiing

    Snow is essentially tiny crystals of reflective ice, these can reflect light upwards and cause you to be exposed to UV rays. In some areas of high altitude, the atmosphere is thinner, meaning that fewer UV rays are blocked out. This means you are even more likely to burn or develop skin cancer than at sea level. Ensure you are covered up adequately, with a balaclava, snow goggles and protective clothing.

    14) Remember that sunscreen is not harmful

    Many people mistakenly believe that certain sunscreens (containg nanoparticles of zinc or titanium dioxide) can be harmful. Studies carried out by the TGA have shown that the human immune system actually breaks these particles down, and thus, they do not have any harmful effects. If you are still unsure however, simply check the ingredients on the bottle of sunscreen for zinc or titanium dioxide before purchasing.

    Featured photo credit: StokPic via stokpic.com

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    Last Updated on August 4, 2020

    8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

    8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

    Minimalism is a way to put a stop to the gluttony of the world around us. It’s the opposite of every advertisement we see plastered on the radio and TV. We live in a society that prides itself on the accumulation of stuff; we eat up consumerism, material possessions, clutter, debt, distractions and noise.

    What we don’t seem to have is any meaning left in our world.

    By adopting a minimalist lifestyle, you can throw out what you don’t need in order to focus on what you do need.

    I know first hand how little we actually need to survive. I was fortunate enough to live in a van for four months while traveling throughout Australia. This experience taught me valuable lessons about what really matters and how little we really need all this stuff we surround ourselves with.

    Less is more.

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    Living a minimalist lifestyle is reducing.There are a few obvious benefits of minimalism such as less cleaning and stress, a more organized household and more money to be found, but there are also a few deep, life-changing benefits.

    What we don’t usually realize is that when we reduce, we reduce a lot more than just stuff.

    Consider just some of the benefits of living with fewer possessions:

    1. Create Room for What’s Important

    When we purge our junk drawers and closets we create space and peace. We lose that claustrophobic feeling and we can actually breathe again. Create the room to fill up our lives with meaning instead of stuff.

    2. More Freedom

    The accumulation of stuff is like an anchor, it ties us down. We are always terrified of losing all our ‘stuff’. Let it go and you will experience a freedom like never before: a freedom from greed, debt, obsession and overworking.

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    3. Focus on Health and Hobbies

    When you spend less time at Home Depot trying unsuccessfully to keep up with the Joneses, you create an opening to do the things you love, things that you never seem to have time for.

    Everyone is always saying they don’t have enough time, but how many people really stop and look at what they are spending their time doing?

    You could be enjoying a day with your kids, hitting up the gym, practicing yoga, reading a good book or traveling. Whatever it is that you love you could be doing, but instead you are stuck at Sears shopping for more stuff.

    4. Less Focus on Material Possessions

    All the stuff we surround ourselves with is merely a distraction, we are filling a void. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy comfort. After the initial comfort is satisfied, that’s where our obsession with money should end.

    We are bombarded by the media presenting promises of happiness through materialistic measures. It’s no wonder we struggle everyday. Resist those urges. It’s an empty path, it won’t make you happy.

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    It’s hard not to get roped into the consumerism trap. I need constant reminders that it’s a false sense of happiness. I enjoy stuff, but I also recognize that I don’t need it.

    5. More Peace of Mind

    When we cling onto material possessions we create stress because we are always afraid of losing these things. By simplifying your life you can lose your attachment to these things and ultimately create a calm, peaceful mind.

    The less things you have to worry about, the more peace you have, and it’s as simple as that.

    6. More Happiness

    When de-cluttering your life, happiness naturally comes because you gravitate towards the things that matter most. You see clearly the false promises in all the clutter, it’s like a broken shield against life’s true essence.

    You will also find happiness in being more efficient, you will find concentration by having refocused your priorities, you will find joy by enjoying slowing down.

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    7. Less Fear of Failure

    When you look at Buddhist monks, they have no fear, and they have no fear because they don’t have anything to lose.

    In whatever you wish to pursue doing you can excel, if you aren’t plagued with the fear of losing all your worldly possessions. Obviously you need to take the appropriate steps to put a roof over your head, but also know that you have little to fear except fear itself.

    8. More Confidence

    The entire minimalist lifestyle promotes individuality and self reliance. This will make you more confident in your pursuit of happiness.

    What’s Next? Go Minimalism.

    If you’re ready to start living a minimalist lifestyle, these articles can help you to kickstart:

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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