Skin in Health and Disease

Some Topics

  • Ultraviolet Light and Skin

    A sun-tan may look good but is not healthy. Sun exposure to fair skin is important in skin aging and skin malignancy. The wavelengths of the solar radiation involved are in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum - from 200-400 nm. The increased incidence of cutaneous malignancy from sun exposure and increased UV radiation (UVR) caused by thinning of the stratospheric ozone is now a major health concern. Ozone is one of the natural sunscreens in the upper atmosphere and used to be a more effective filter against solar ultra-violet radiation. UV exposure causes sunburn, skin aging, photodermatoses and skin cancer. Ultaviolet light is divided into three bands; A, B & C. UVA and UVB are both responsible for photoageing.

    Ultraviolet sub-bands

    UVA : at wavelengths of 320-400 nm accounts for 90% of UVR reaching the Earth's surface.

    UVB : 290-320 nm is 10% of UVR reaching the earth surface and is largely responsible for skin cancer. UV-B is absorbed in the upper stratosphere (about 25 miles above the earth) at the level of the ozone layer. uVB is 1000 times more potent in causing sunburn (erythema) than UVA.

    UVC : 200-290 nm is absorbed in the upper atmosphere, but would cause severe cellular damage if it reached living organisms.

    UV effects on Gene Expression

    UV light changes the behavior of skin cells by changing the expression of genes and/or damaging DNA. UV radiation causes cyclobutane phyrimidine dimers, 6-4 photo products and single strand breaks. UV increases synthesis of transcription factor proteins that enter the nucleus, bind to genes and increases production of the protein transcribed by the gene. Protective substances in cells such as p53 can repair DNA damage and stop cells from proliferating. Imperfect repair leaves permanent mutations with changes in the growth characteristics of the skin and risk of cancer.

    Protective Measures

    Avoid sunburns

    Avoid tanning parlors

    Use protective clothing and sunscreens

    Checkout suspicious skin lesions

    Sunscreens are no substitute for avoidance of mid-day sunlight and protective clothing. Recent studies suggest that people are using sunscreens more frequently and exposing themselves more often to sun, increasing the total dose of UVR they receive.

    Sunscreens can be divided into 2 main types

    Physical: These are opaque pastes and creams that reflect or scatter incident UVR. Examples are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and magnesium silicate. They protect against both the UVB and UVA. The white paste, zinc oxide is the most effective sunblock. A transparent, micronized form of zinc oxide has been marketed as Z-Cote and is be incorporated into a number of other skin products.

    Chemical: These chemicals act by absorbing UVB: para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), PABA esters, salicylates, cinnamates, anthranilates and the benzophenones. Benzophenone compounds absorb UVB and wavelengths from 250-365 nm, However, it is less effective than PABA in the UVB spectrum. Cinnamates can also absorb UVA. Sunscreen products often contain more than more than one active ingredient.

    Examples of commonly used sunscreens are

    Sunsense : Titanium dioxide Co 3%, Oxybenzone 5%, Ethylhexyl-p-methoxycinnamate 7.5%, Butylmethoxy-dibenzoylmethane 1.5 %

    Coppertone : Ethylhexyl p-methoxylcinnamate, 2-ethylhexyl salicylate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone

    A Sun Protection Factor (SPF *) >15 is required; more than 15 times the sun exposure is required to produce the same reddening of skin by comparison with unprotected skin. The greater the SPF, the greater the protection. Sunscreen agents such as PABA esters are potential sensitizers, causing allergic contact dermatitis.


    Adapted from presentations by Dr. Daniel Albritton, NOAA Aeronomy Lab, Boulder, CO, Dr. Margaret Kripke, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

    More than 25 years ago, scientists first hypothesized that human activities could harm the stratospheric ozone layer, which is our shield against solar UV-B radiation. Subsequently, research has focused on understanding the nature and make-up of the stratospheric ozone layer and its relationship with humankind. For example, the ozone-destroying role of several industrially-produced chemicals has been determined, the Antarctic "ozone hole" has been observed and explained, and the relation between ozone loss and increased surface UV-B radiation has been characterized. World governments began to formulate international agreements to protect the ozone layer, with scientific understanding providing major support for these decisions. This seminar will summarize key points of our present scientific understanding of ozone depletion, what research results they are based upon, and the outlook for the future of our ozone layer.

    In the early 1970's chemists Paul Crutzen and Harold Johnston described the effects of nitrogen oxides on stratospheric ozone chemistry. In 1974 chemists Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland realized that human-produced chlorine compounds, particularly CFC's, could deplete the Earth's ozone layer. These scientists, together with Paul Crutzen, were recently awarded Nobel Prizes for their research.

    Large seasonal depletion of ozone (up to 100% at some altitudes) is observed each year over Antarctica, where the meteorology and extremely old wintertime temperatures are enhancing the ozone-depleting chemistry of CFC's and other human-produced chemicals. Downward trends of about 4-5% per decade have been observed at mid-latitudes in both hemispheres. Although the phenomenon is not yet fully understood, the weight of evidence indicates that these losses are due in large part to human-produced chemicals. Ozone depletion is observed to cause an increase in UV-B radiation at the Earth's surface. Monitoring data show that the growth in concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere is slowing, consistent with the declining production required by international agreements. The maximum ozone depletion (and increase in UV-B radiation) is likely to occur within the next 10 years; thereafter, the ozone layer is expected to slowly recover over the next several decades.

    Ozone and Health Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation

    The amount of UV-B radiation in natural sunlight is dependent upon the concentration of ozone molecules in the atmosphere. Any reduction in stratospheric ozone concentration will result in increased amounts of UV-B radiation reaching the surface. Even a small increase in UV-B radiation is likely to have important consequences for plant and animal life, and will almost certainly jeopardize human health. The best understood harmful effects of UV-B radiation on human health are basal and squamous cell cancers of the skin and eye damage, including cataracts, which can lead to blindness.

    UV-B radiation also contributes to the development of melanoma skin cancer and can reduce immunity to infectious agents. UV-B radiation may also affect human health indirectly by interfering with the food chain. On a global scale, UV-B radiation may increase the infectious disease burden, cause blindness, and reduce the world's food supply.

    The current pattern of ozone depletion will cause the incidence of skin cancer to continue to rise at least until the year 2050 and probably beyond. For each 1% reduction in ozone, the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer will increase by 2%. This means that a sustained 10% decrease in the average ozone concentration would lead to about 250,000 additional non-melanoma skin cancers each year. Each 1% decrease in ozone concentration is estimated to increase the incidence of cataracts by about 0.5%. Increased UV-B radiation could increase the severity of some infections in human populations. Furthermore, skin pigmentation does not seem to provide much protection against the immunosuppressive effects of UV irradiation in humans. Any lowering of immune defenses is likely to have a devastating impact on human health.

  • Skin in Health and Disease

    is a book about skin health and skin care that offers solutions to specific skin disorders. The good news for many suffers some chronic skin disorders is that complete diet revision will often improve and sometimes resolve skin symptoms. This book focuses on the most common skin disorders that can be controlled by changes in skin care, diet and the environment. Eczema, for example, is sometimes an expression of food allergy, or allergy to contact materials. Dermatologist may deny the food allergy causes, so that their patients often have to make independent decisions. In all aspects of medicine, we advocate responsible self-management and offer this book as primer and reference for self-managers with skin problems.

    The book, Skin in Heath and Disease is intended to be used with the Alpha Nutrition Program. This text provides background knowledge, helpful in understanding skin disorders and the relevance of diet revision. Often a food holiday on Alpha ENF is the best way to begin recovery and the Alpha Nutrition program is an ideal way to design a safer, healthier long-term diet. If diet revision is appropriate to solve your Skin Disorders, you can order the the Starter Pack Option.

    We recommend diet revision to people with

    1. Moderate to severe eczema
    2. Persistent or recurrent hives of more than 4 weeks duration
    3. All skin disorders associated with digestive disorders.
    4. All skin disorders associate with inflammatory arthritis
    5. All skin disorders associated chronic ill-defined illnesses.
    6. Dermatitis Herpetiformis
    7. Moderate to Severe Psoriasis

    Starter Packs bundle the Alpha Nutrition Program, with other books and formulas to help you get started solving your health problems. The starter packs are sold at discounts to make it easier and affordable for you to learn more and try our nutrient formulas.

    Order Starter Pack

    All Alpha Nutrition Books, Formulas and Starter Packs are ordered at Alpha Online. Physical shipments by the Post Office to all destinations in Canada and the USA. eBooks are downloaded and can be delivered to any destination on the planet. Click the Download button to order and download PDF files from Alpha Online.

    Alpha Online is a hub for twenty five Medical Information Centers. Each center acts as its own web site with a home page and a list of links to relevant topics. Take advantage of 800 pages of text which describe common medical problems and introduce you to innovative solutions such as Alpha ENF and the Alpha Nutrition Program.

    Alpha Nutrition is a trademark and a division of Environmed Research Inc., founded in 1984 at Vancouver, BC, Canada. Online Since 1995.
    Experts in Self-Managed Care. Experts in Elemental Nutrient Formulas. Head Office is located in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia.
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