Dr. Joel Schlessinger weighs in on the link between alcohol and skin cancer

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Dr. Joel Schlessinger weighs in on the link between alcohol and skin cancerAccording to a recent study, there may be a connection between drinking alcohol and skin cancer. The British Journal of Dermatology found that drinking too much alcohol could set off a chain reaction that makes the skin more sensitive to UV light that can cause skin cancer.

The study looked at 16 different case studies involving thousands of participants. These studies found that drinking one alcoholic beverage or more per day increases the risk of skin cancer by a fifth.

How does alcohol increase skin cancer risk? Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares.

A number of forces may be to blame causing the link between alcohol and skin cancer. Ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde soon after ingestion, and acetaldehyde can render the skin more sensitive to UV light. Sunscreen negligence and not wearing enough protective clothing while drinking may also be to blame.

“The interesting question will be whether it is because protection and the awareness of sun protection is flawed while ‘sunning under the influence’ or whether there is a particular worsening of sun exposure when drinking,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

“We have many drugs and foods that intensify sun exposure when ingested, so it isn’t a stretch to think alcohol could do the same thing.”

Dr. Joel Schlessinger is not surprised by the findings of this study.

Although this is a new study, Dr. Joel Schlessinger isn’t surprised by the findings.

“It is tough enough to encourage patients to stay out of the sun,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger, “so it comes as no shock that when drinking, sun protection habits go out the window.”

Dr. Joel Schlessinger always recommends wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen every day, especially when you plan to be in the sun. Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. For extra protection, try an antioxidant supplement such as Heliocare Sun Protection Capsules.

But at the end of the day, Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends avoiding drinking alcohol and spending time in the sun.

“The take home message is that it is unsafe to be in the sun and drink at the same time.”

Do you ever drink alcohol while you are in the sun? What precautions do you take? Share with us in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.

Joel Schlessinger MD and other derms agree Mohs Surgery is the best treatment for skin cancer

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Joel Schlessinger MD and other derms agree Mohs Surgery is the best treatment for skin cancer

Mohs Surgery is the most effective treatment offered by physicians like Joel Schlessinger MD for skin cancer

There is a large variety of treatment options for skin cancer, including laser surgery, radiation and freezing. However, Mohs Surgery, developed in the 1930s, continues to be the most effective option for treating skin cancer. According to a recent article, this method offers a 99 percent success rate for basal cell carcinoma and leaves less scarring than other options. This procedure is also suitable for squamous cell carcinoma and certain forms of melanoma, but BCC accounts for 75 percent of all skin cancers.

The article listed above highlights a woman who was diagnosed with BCC at age 39 and was unaware of Mohs Surgery until suggested by her dermatologist. It wasn’t until he sat down with her that she learned how the procedure works. It begins with the visible portion of skin cancer and a layer of surrounding skin being removed with a scalpel. The physician then maps the tumor on paper to serve as a guide to its precise location. The area removed with a scalpel is then processed with stains to highlight cancerous material before examining the tissue under a microscope. If cancer is still present, the physician will repeat this process until the cancer is gone.

Joel Schlessinger MD explains that while Mohs is the most successful treatment option, there are other procedures available

Some cases of skin cancer do not qualify for Mohs. These cases are treated with other options like a standard excision, radiotherapy, topical creams or Photodynamic Therapy. Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells from the outside. Topical creams work on the immune system to help the body fight back and Photodynamic Therapy combines a special cream with exposure to a specific wavelength of light. Topical options like these are only used for low-risk, superficial tumors.

Do you have a question for Joel Schlessinger MD about Mohs Surgery? Share them in the comments.

Joel Schlessinger MD and other dermatologists are seeing a rise in skin cancer among young women

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Joel Schlessinger MD and other dermatologists are seeing a rise in skin cancer among young women

Skin cancer is on the rise and young women are one of the hardest hit groups, says Joel Schlessinger MD.

The risks of tanning beds and sun bathing have been well documented and confirmed by studies within the last few years. While many are choosing to avoid this dangerous habit, the results of years of tanning are becoming more and more apparent, especially in young women. This article shared by Joel Schlessinger reveals that melanoma has increased eightfold in women under 40.

Frequent use of tanning beds is a major contributor to this trend, says Joel Schlessinger MD.

This article features a study performed by Mayo Clinic that reveals which age groups have seen the largest increase in skin cancer cases. Researchers speculate that young women are seeing an increase because they are the most likely to use tanning beds. It is estimated that 70 percent of the 20 million people who use tanning beds each year are women under the age of 40.

Because the lamps in tanning beds give off 10 to 15 times more radiation that the sun, women who tan are seeing cases of melanoma earlier in their lives. Even women who do not use tanning beds can be more at risk if they are exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

Women should take precautions to reduce their risks, advises Joel Schlessinger MD.

Along with avoiding tanning beds, women should limit the amount of time they spend in the sun. If you are exposed to the sun, always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen and reapply every two hours. You should also visit a dermatologist at least once a year to check for signs of melanoma and skin cancer.

Let Joel Schlessinger MD know of any questions or comments you may have by commenting on this blog.

Experts such as Joel Schlessinger MD continue to recommend Mohs micrographic surgery for high risk facial skin cancers

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Experts such as Joel Schlessinger MD continue to recommend Mohs micrographic surgery for high risk facial skin cancers

Treating high risk skin cancers on the face requires special care, explains Joel Schlessinger MD.

While most individuals are getting smart about sun protection and wearing a daily sunscreen, skin cancer is still a huge concern for many individuals. When lesions occur on the face, they can be particularly difficult to treat.

A recent Med Page Today article highlights the most often recommended treatment for facial non-melanoma skin cancer, Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS). Joel Schlessinger MD and other cosmetic surgeons continue to recommend this procedure for their patients.

What is Mohs micrographic surgery? Joel Schlessinger MD explains.

When removing a skin cancer lesion, physicians must also remove tissue surrounding the lesion to ensure that the cancerous tissue is completely removed. This can be a difficult procedure on the smaller areas of the face such as the cheeks, forehead and ears.

MMS allows surgeons to examine the margins around the lesion for greater accuracy when removing tissue. This type of procedure is beneficial because it allows the physician to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. MMS is accepted today as one of the most effective procedures for removing basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two of the most common types of skin cancer.

If you are at all concerned about moles or lesions, see a dermatologist such as Joel Schlessinger MD.

While MMS is one of the most often recommended treatments for facial skin cancer, there are other factors that must be considered during each individual case. A patient’s age, gender and history of skin cancer all must be considered when determining whether MMS is a suitable treatment option. The location of the lesion is also an important factor because certain areas on the face are at a greater risk of developing deeper lesions.

Do you have questions for Joel Schlessinger MD? Let him know below.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger supports the ban of tanning beds for all minors

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Dr. Joel Schlessinger supports the ban of tanning beds for all minors
A recent report noted that Maine lawmakers are considering banning the use of tanning beds for all people under the age of 18. If this bill passes, Maine will be the third state to ban those under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed.

The current law permits minors to tan indoors if they have a signed note from a parent or guardian. The new bill would ban all tanning for minors. Other states that currently have this ban are Vermont and California.

Other states have made similar restrictions, such as prohibiting tanning among children under the age of 16 or requiring parental supervision.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger is very happy to see these bills beginning to become more popular.

“I am so happy to see that these bills are proceeding,” said Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “This is a hugely important concern to all dermatologists and worth passage to guard our children from harm.”

Dr. Joel Schlessinger has always been a strong supporter of protecting all people from damaging UVA and UVB rays that can cause skin burns, premature wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer.

“In Nebraska, I am proud to be a supporter of the same sort of bill and hope that this will save future generations from melanomas and skin cancers they might have developed.”

Find out other measures Dr. Joel Schlessinger has taken for enhanced sun protection safety.

As a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Joel Schlessinger is very passionate about healthy skin that is well-protected from the damaging effects of the sun. He recommends wearing sunscreen every day, even if you aren’t exposed to direct sunlight. Discover Dr. Joel Schlessinger’s favorite sunscreens here.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger is also a strong advocate for the use of sunscreen in schools. Many schools have banned the use of sunscreen for children, yet these children are still exposed to direct sunlight during outdoor recess. Dr. Joel Schlessinger appeared on the Huffington Post this past summer to discuss the implications of this ban.

Would you support a ban of tanning beds for all minors? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger supports complaint against Jersey Shore TV show

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Dr. Joel Schlessinger supports complaint against Jersey Shore TV showThe Skin Cancer Foundation recently lodged a formal complaint against the Federal Trade Commission about the television show, Jersey Shore. The Skin Cancer Foundation claims that this television show is a “health-hazard” because the “still available episodes of the show promote tanning, especially in tanning beds, which encourages young viewers to engage in a cancer-causing habit.”

Jersey Shore is a reality television that follows eight housemates spending their summer at the Jersey Shore. In the show, the eight stars consistently use tanning beds to darken their skin.

The Skin Cancer Foundation would like to see the Federal Trade Commission look into this claim while MTV puts warning labels on all reruns and online episodes. They would also like to see warning labels on all products, advertisements and games tied to the television show, warning of the dangers of tanning.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger is very passionate about this issue and supports The Skin Cancer Foundation’s efforts.

“Shows like this end up encouraging young people, including children, to take up a habit that has been shown to cause cancer,” said Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

“Just like television and the film industry essentially toned down the appearance of smoking in their movies and shows, this can do the same for tanning.”

MTV has responded to the request, saying that while it does not plan to include warnings on the show, it does applaud the organization’s “efforts to bring attention to these issues, which are important to our audiences and the public health.”

Dr. Joel Schlessinger hopes to see a change in the portrayal of tanning beds on television.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger has high hopes for this complaint as he sees this as a serious issue in our society today.

“I hope it succeeds and wish Dr. Sarnoff and the Skin Cancer Foundation success!”

Dr. Joel Schlessinger is passionate about stopping the spread of skin cancer, especially in adolescents. Learn more about Dr. Joel Schlessinger’s involvement in the fight for skin cancer.

Do you think Jersey Shore leads to more tanning bed use? Tell us your opinions in the comments.

Click here to read the article “‘Jersey Shore’ still promotes tanning, group says,” featured in USAToday. 

Joel Schlessinger MD shares his recommendations on the best sunscreens

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Joel Schlessinger MD shares his recommendations on the best sunscreens
Although the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping, the sun is still emitting harmful UVA and UVB rays that can cause burns, premature aging and skin cancer. To shield your face and body from these rays in the cooler months, it’s still a necessity to wear sunscreen every day. Dr. Joel Schlessinger gives us his recommendations on the best sunscreens to use daily.

Joel Schlessinger MD recommends Obagi sunscreen for general everyday use

If you have normal skin, a great daily sunscreen is Obagi Nu-Derm Sun Shield SPF 50. Joel Schlessinger MD says this is a great sunscreen with excellent coverage that doesn’t look white on the skin.

Obagi Nu-Derm Sun Shield SPF 50 is a sheer, elegant formula that leaves a matte finish while it gives you incredible protection. This sunscreen contains both physical and chemical sunscreens so rays will both absorb and deflect.

For oily or acne prone skin, Dr. Joel Schlessinger applauds ultra-light, oil-free sunscreens.

For acne prone skin, Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends EltaMD UV Clear or La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid.

“These are both great options with good UVA and UVB coverage that won’t irritate acne prone skin,” the doctor says.

These sunscreens are also gentle options that work for a variety of other skin conditions like rosacea and hyperpigmentation. Recommended by many dermatologists, these sunscreens are perfect for skin that is easily irritated.

Brush-on sunscreens are also one of the doctor’s favorites.

Colorescience Sunforgettable products contain broad spectrum protection in the form of a makeup brush. Simply sweep these products on your skin for a touch of color and superior protection. Joel Schlessinger MD recommends these products for quick touch-ups throughout the day, as they make a perfect companion for your purse or pocket.

Find more excellent sunscreen options for all skin types at LovelySkin.com.

Joel Schlessinger MD says that he recommends sunscreen based on the skin conditions a patient may have. If you have a skin condition that may prevent you from using a general sunscreen, it is best to get advice from your dermatologist.

What’s your favorite sunscreen? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.

Which one is the melanoma on this 33 year old?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The answer is B, but A was also threatening to change, so those of you who chose A aren’t really wrong.  The thing that most people don’t realize about moles (nevi) is that they aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but always changing.  What this means is that ‘A’ may change at some point to be a melanoma.  It may even get better to some degree if the patient stays out of the sun for a long time.

We find that moles have a natural pattern of growth and eventually many may even get better and go away as people age.  There are others, called seborrheic keratoses, that get worse over time, but these aren’t of concern (although they look quite dangerous to many people).

This melanoma is one that was less than one millimeter in thickness, which is good.  That means that this will likely have a good chance of complete cure and no further work (other than the reexcision we did) will be necessary.

Please feel free to send this link to your loved ones as we have heard from several of my readers who sent it on and a loved one realized they had a melanoma because of it!  My patients are thrilled that they can help others as well to avoid this potentially life-threatening condition.

Which one is the melanoma, A or B?

Derm Quiz Answer: What’s behind this man’s ear?

Friday, August 17th, 2012

This is what a skin cancer can look like behind the ear

Skin cancers, such as this basal cell carcinoma, can be tough to diagnose, even for physicians. This man had the spot here for years and had even shown it to his family doctor, who prescribed a cream for it. He thought it was from his glasses rubbing, but that is a common mistake among people.

The truth is that most skin cancers are confused with other conditions initially as they look so ‘bland’. As you can see here, it isn’t dark, it isn’t bleeding and it isn’t raised all that much…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t cancer. We see hundreds of patients a year just in my practice with skin cancer and less than a handful say to me: “I think I have a skin cancer.”

Most of my skin cancer patients come in with something else and we find their cancers incidentally, just like I did with this patient. So, it pays to be observant, but it pays even more to go to a dermatologist at least once a year if you have had skin cancer in the past or if you have a mole or growth that is changing, bleeding, growing or unusual.

The basal cell carcinoma that this patient had is easily treatable. He had a method of surgery called Moh’s Surgery on it and has about a 96% to 98% chance of cure. The best part is that he can now wear the glasses easily that initially were thought to be causing this!

Which one is the melanoma?

Monday, August 6th, 2012
Which one is the melanoma?  

A or B?

The answer is that both are a melanoma.  The one on the left is what is called an ‘amelanotic’ melanoma, which means it doesn’t have any pigment in it.  That is one reason it is so dangerous and, in general, melanoma is so dangerous.

We see that form of melanoma rarely, but I diagnose one of them every year now, it seems.  Generally, my patients say that they came up quickly and they can easily be confused with a mole or other form of skin cancer.

The one on the right is more of the ‘typical’ form of melanoma.  The thing most people would be surprised about is that the person who had it wasn’t concerned about it.  She came in for something else and when we saw it, we knew it had to come off.  She isn’t alone as most people feel that if a mole has been present since birth, it is fine.  What they don’t know is that moles that are from birth have a very special risk to them.

Melanoma risk is based on how ‘deep’ they are and both of these are in a higher risk category.  As a dermatologist, I see melanomas about once a month, but these two came within a week of each other.  That is another reason that I am concerned about indoor tanning (and outdoor!), as these are one of the main reasons for the increase in skin cancers and melanomas.

The take home message from this is to pass this around to your friends and let them know that a mole that is changing can be dangerous and even deadly.  Look over yourself and your loved ones and if you have any concerns, go to your dermatologist for evaluation.  It may save your life or that of a  loved one.