The summer solstice is upon us once again, and with it, the powerful UVA and UVB rays of our solar system's thermonuclear fusion reactor, the sun. Our atmosphere, functioning at its best, filters out over 70 percent of solar ultraviolet rays, the entire spectrum of which has some of the biological features of ionizing radiation. It does far more damage to many molecules in biological systems than is accounted for by simple heating effects; sunburn, for example. These properties derive from the ultraviolet photon's power to alter chemical bonds in molecules; hello, melanoma. It is because of UV light from the sun that there is such a plethora of topical sunscreens to choose from for our year-round sun protection needs. But, as we all now recognize, global warming is no longer a figment of Chicken Little's imagination; it is now our daily reality. Topical creams may no longer protect us sufficiently from the powerful star at the center of our solar system.
According to the website spaceweatherlive.com, solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M or X, according to the peak flux (in watts per square metre). Each x-ray class is divided into a logarithmic scale from 1 to 9. An X2 flare is twice as powerful as an X1 flare, and is four times more powerful than an M5 flare. The X-class flares are the biggest and strongest of them all, and our little blue planet got blasted by three X-class flares on June 10th and June 11th. On the 10th, the sun emitted an X2.2 and and X1.5, and the next day blasted out a X1.0 flare. These flares were powerful enough to cause scattered communication blackouts, and a possible shock wave threatened a minor geomagnetic storm that could have further threatened communications satellites. According to Dean Pesnell, a leading member of the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel, "Solar Max is back!"
All this epic sun activity is certainly cause for concern when it comes to ensuring that we are properly protected during summer's long daylight hours. Most of us are diligent in our sun protection routines, slathering on the SPF under our moisturizer, and even doubling down with SPF enriched foundations and BB creams. Take well-known San Antonio, Texas dermatologist, Vivian Bucay, MD. One would assume a dermatologist would be able to spot skin cancer on herself, but this was not the case when she noticed some skin flakes in her navel. Curious as to what might be causing this kind of "shedding", she sought a skin biopsy and was surprised with the diagnosis of melanoma. She immediately sought treatment and is now cancer-free, and is also loaded with advice.
"It is sobering to realize how insidious skin cancer, and particularly, melanoma, can be," she said. "It makes the idea of routine body checks with a dermatologist such an imperative for everyone. For people with all kinds of freckles and moles, these checks should be performed more often." No one can say for sure if the sun was responsible for Dr. Bucay's melanoma, but she admits to having done her share of sunbathing in her teens, before realizing how dangerous it is. "I was really lucky to have had great medical care and believe more strongly than ever in getting anything and everything that looks even vaguely suspicious checked out." Dr. Bucay shares her routine for protecting one's skin from the sun and it includes a number of products. "Sun protection is far more encompassing than simply applying a sunscreen," she says. Here is what is in her arsenal:
An SPF 50 physical/mineral sunscreen - every day, rain or shine, and applied before putting on your swimsuit to protect against UVA and UVB rays. Oral CoQ10 and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). A daily dose of Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE), a dietary supplement derived from a tropical fern. She recommends Heliocare because it is backed by 30 years of study. Getting Vitamin D levels tested, because this vitamin plays an important role in regulation of the immune mechanism in the body. Use of topical antioxidants such as Vitamins C. E, green tea polyphenols, and red tea flavonoids.
"Your skin contains a type of white blood cell called a Langerhans cell that is very sensitive to UVA and UVB radiation, whether from the sun or a tanning bed; they can be depleted in 15 minutes worth of sun exposure," Dr. Bucay explains. Langerhans cells, found in the epidermis, are an essential part of the immune system. They work by capturing antigens (agents that can trigger a reaction, such as infections, allergic reactions, and cancer) that get into the skin and present them to immune system cells that create a mechanism to fight them off. "So you really need to protect your skin on many levels," she stresses. "This is why adding products such as Heliocare (Polypodium leucotomos extract) is so imporant. PLE is skin specific, and not only helps to decrease sensitivity to UVA and UVB rays, it also works as an antioxidant."
The powerful antioxidant formula in each capsule of Heliocare is derived from the extract of Polypodium leucotomos (PLE), a fern native to Central and South America that has been used for centuries as a remedy for skin related conditions. This fern, which was once an aquatic plant, adapted to life on land and created its own protection from exposure to harsh UV rays. By utilizing the extract of this organically grown plant, Heliocare delivers antioxidants that help the skin protect itself from the first day of use.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent and disease. For more information go to www.heliocare.com or www.ferndalehealthcare.com.