kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for melanoma in the United States for 2022 are:

  • About 99,780 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 57,180 in men and 42,600 in women).
  • About 7,650 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 5,080 men and 2,570 women).

The rates of melanoma have been rising rapidly over the past few decades.

Melanoma is more common in men overall, but before age 50 the rates are higher in women than in men.

The risk of melanoma increases as people age. The average age of people when it is diagnosed is 65. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially women).

Most skin cancers are the result of years of cumulative sun exposure. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in 15-to-19-year-olds, and the most common form of cancer affecting young adults between the ages of 25 and 29.

Not only can melanoma develop in young individuals, but it can also develop as a result of lifestyle choices a person establishes during the teen years and early 20s. Most notably, people who habitually tan during adolescence and young adulthood have a higher risk of developing melanoma skin cancer later on in life.

Sustaining just five sunburns as a teenager can make an adult 80 percent more likely to develop melanoma during their lifetime.

While unprotected sun exposure, indoor tanning and repeated sun burns at any age can all lead to skin cancer, experts say, sun damage in childhood fuels a lifetime of risk.  “A burn at age 25 is not as damaging as a burn at the tender age of 4 so we have a critical window in childhood to minimize life-time risk,” says Bernard Cohen, M.D., director of pediatric dermatology at Hopkins Children’s Hospital.

Cohen advises the parents and other caregivers of young children to:

  • limit sun exposure to mornings and late afternoons when the sun is weaker
  • use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on the entire body and long-sleeved clothing and wide-rim hats during any sun exposure
  • apply broad-spectrum sunscreen on all exposed areas year-round

Doctors are most concerned about those between the ages of 12 and 18.  Being more independent and a desire to look “better with a tan” leads them to use indoor tanning beds, which puts them at high risk for melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Tanning beds are a constant threat, Cohen warns. Classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization, tanning beds pack more punch than the sun because they deliver more concentrated doses of UV radiation, Cohen says.

Although many states and municipalities have passed laws requiring parental consent for minors to use tanning beds, and other states have banned indoor tanning altogether, such laws are not uniformly or tightly enforced, Cohen says.

Research from the last 10 years has repeatedly shown a growing number of young adults developing skin cancer. Most recently, a Mayo Clinic study found a six-fold jump in the rates of melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer among 18-to-39-year-olds over the last 40 years. Women had an eight-fold increase, compared with a four-fold increase in men. The researchers attribute the gender difference to higher tan-seeking behaviors among young women, including outdoor sun exposure and indoor tanning.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Your best defense against sunburn is sunscreen.

Look for options with SPF30 or more. Also, you should definitely pay attention to the water resistance of each formula. Even if you aren’t on your way to the beach or the pool, this ensures that your safe sunscreen will stay on no matter how much you sweat during your daily activities. Most experts suggest SPF50 for kids and adults with a minimum of 40 minutes of water and sweat resistance. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are the only two active ingredients in safe & non toxic sunscreen formulas you should look for according to Environmental Working Group’s latest report.

Diet is an often-overlooked part of how we can help our bodies deal with sun exposure.

Turns out we have a “skin clock,” says Joseph S. Takahashi, PhD, chairman of neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. In his 2017 study, Takahashi and his team found that an enzyme that repairs UV-damaged skin has a daily cycle of production that can be altered by eating food at unusual times.

“It is likely that if you have a normal eating schedule, then you will be better protected from UV during the daytime. If you have an abnormal eating schedule, that could cause a harmful shift in your skin clock,” he said.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that fight off free radicals that can damage skin due to sun exposure and stress. Blueberries are even more powerful if they’re a wild variety. They’re also a very good source of vitamin C, which can help prevent wrinkles from a day on the beach.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant responsible for their red color. But watermelons actually contain far more. Lycopene absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation, although it may take several weeks for the skin to become more photoprotective due to its turnover rate, according to a 2012 study.

After a few weeks of daily watermelon consumption, lycopene can eventually act as a natural sunblock. Researchers note, though, that it can’t take the place of other protective measures, like SPF and sun-protective clothing, against sunspots and skin damage.

Walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax all contain omega-3 essential fatty acids. Our bodies can’t make omega-3s, so it’s essential that we get them from our diet. Omega-3s help maintain your skin’s integrity and are anti-inflammatory. Omega-3s also help your body naturally cope with the effects of spending a little too much time in the sun.

Our bodies convert beta carotene into vitamin A, which is vital for skin health. A 2007 meta-analysis found that beta carotene provided natural sun protection after 10 weeks of regular supplementation. Carrots and leafy greens like kale and spinach are great beta carotene-packed additions to your meals. In particular, leafy greens are high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These have been found to protect against wrinkling, sun damage, and even skin cancer.

In a 2010 study, researchers found that green tea consumption led to fewer tumors induced by UV light in mice. This was due to a flavanol contained in both green and black tea known as EGCG. A study on green tea found that it reduced skin damage from UVA light and protected against the decrease of collagen. Collagen is our body’s most abundant protein. It gives skin its integrity and firmness.

Despite not being colorful, cauliflower contains potent antioxidants that help fight off oxidative stress from free radicals. Cauliflower is also a naturally sun-protective food thanks to histidine. This alpha-amino acid stimulates the production of urocanic acid, which absorbs UV radiation.

Kakadu Plum

The Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana), also known as gubinge or billygoat plum, is a small fruit found in the Eucalypt open woodlands across Northern Australia. The kakadu plum tree loses its leaves in the dry season. It is small with large, round leaves and cream-colored flowers that bloom from August to October.

The plums are smooth, fleshy, and egg-shaped with a single seed inside, and they range from yellow to green in color. Some people make them into jam, but they can be eaten raw or added to smoothies as a powder.

In traditional medicine, Kakadu plums were used to treat colds, the flu, and headaches. They were also utilized as an antiseptic or soothing balm for the limbs.

Kakadu plums are low in calories and rich in nutrients, providing a quality source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Here is the nutritional breakdown of 3.5 ounces  of the edible part of the fruit:

  • Calories: 59
  • Protein: 0.8 grams
  • Carbs: 17.2 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 7.1 grams
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Sodium: 13 mg
  • Vitamin C: 3,230% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 100% of the DV
  • Iron: 13.3% of the DV

It’s especially high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that protects your body from damage caused by reactive molecules known as free radicals. Kakadu plums have the highest recorded natural amount of vitamin C of any food in the world. In fact, 3.5 ounces of the fruit provide well over 3,000% of your daily needs. The same serving of oranges contains 59.1% of the DV, while the same amount of blueberries provides just 10.8% of the DV.

Eating foods high in vitamin C can also aid the absorption of plant sources of iron. Adding 100 mg of vitamin C to a meal can improve iron absorption by 67%. This may be particularly useful for vegetarians, vegans, and people with iron deficiency. Kakadu plums are also rich in iron, which is essential for oxygen transport throughout your body and red blood cell production.

The vitamin C content of Kakadu plums drops rapidly after picking, so the fruits are usually frozen for transport and sale.

Kkakadu plums are an excellent source of copper, which is used to form red blood cells, bones, connective tissue, and important enzymes, as well as support proper immune system function and fetal development.

Kakadu plums contain 6 times the amount of polyphenols and 13.3 times more antioxidant activity than blueberries. Antioxidants can bind to excess free radicals, protecting your cells against their toxic effects.

Kakadu plums also have lots of ellagic acid. This is another antioxidant commonly found in strawberries, almonds, and walnuts. Ellagic acid might help damage or kill cancer cells and block tumor growth.  Currently, there are no recommendations regarding daily ellagic acid intake. Some reports estimate the average daily intake to be approximately 4.9–12 mg.

Kakadu plums contain roughly 228–14,020 mg of ellagic acid per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of dried fruit. The exact amount is determined by the tree, climate, soil conditions, ripeness, and storage conditions.

Aside from vitamin C and ellagic acid, plums contain many other antioxidants, including:

  • Flavonols. These are linked to heart health and may have stroke-reducing, cancer-fighting, and antiviral effects. The main types in Kakadu plums are kaempferol and quercetin.
  • Aromatic acids. In Kakadu plums, the main types are ellagic and gallic acid. Gallic acid is associated with neurodegenerative disease prevention.
  • Anthocyanins. They are the colored pigments in fruit and associated with good urinary tract health, a lower risk of some cancers, healthy aging, and improved memory and eye health.
  • Lutein. This antioxidant is a carotenoid that is linked to eye health and may protect against macular degeneration and heart disease. This substance can help lower your risk for chronic eye disease and cataracts. The vitamin C and E in kakadu plums can also help lower your risk of cataracts, vision problems, age-related macular degeneration, and loss of healthy tissue.

The kakadu plum has a high potassium to sodium ratio. This might help lower high blood pressure. 

Kakadu plum seeds can be pressed into seed oil. The kakadu plum oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids as well as saturated fatty acids called palmitic acid and stearic acid. These fatty seed oils rich in omegas can help promote wound healing and moisturize the skin.Kakadu plum is added to lots of different lotions and facial washes because of its vitamin C content. Vitamin C can help brighten the skin, protect against signs of aging, and lower patches of darker skin (hyperpigmentation) and dark spots.

Kakadu plum fruit and leaf extracts are naturally antibacterial. Research shows that water-based and methanol kakadu plum extracts can stop food-borne bacteria growth like antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus bacteria and Listeria monocytogenes.

The antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit have led to its use in some skin care and acne-fighting products.

How to Buy

The Australian Superfood Company sells kakadu powder on Amazon.

For products made with kakadu plum, try Vitacost, an online market. Nature’s Plus Face Cream

 

How to Store

Store all supplemental powders in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight.

 

How to Cook

Kakadu plum can be eaten fresh, but because they’re very fibrous and sour, they’re more commonly used in jams, preserves, sauces, and juices.

To maintain their size and quality, Kakadu plums are typically frozen directly after harvesting. Specialty retailers may sell the fruits frozen whole or puréed.

Additionally, the fruits are often freeze-dried and turned into a powder.

The powder can be sprinkled over breakfast cereal and added to smoothies, juices, protein balls, salad dressings, and desserts.

Kakadu Plum and Ginger Energy Balls

Nourish Every Day/ Monique

25 Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 packed cup medjool dates –  about 11-12 dates
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cashews (raw, unsalted) – soaked overnight and drained
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes (can substitute gluten-free rolled oats)
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 5 tsp Kakadu plum powder from The Australian Superfood Co.
  • 23 tsp ground ginger – adjust according to taste
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut OR 1/2 cup sesame seeds, OR a mix, for coating the balls

Instructions

  • Remove the pits from the medjool dates and place in a food processor along with the cashews. Process so the dates and cashews break up a little, into a rough sticky crumb.
  • Add the quinoa flakes, cacao powder, ginger and Kakadu plum powder. Continue to process until the mixture forms a sticky dough. It will probably start to come together as one big ball in the food processor.
  • Scoop out heaped teaspoons of the mixture and roll into a ball. Roll in coconut or sesame seeds to coat. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  • Pop the energy balls in the fridge, where they will firm up a bit. Keep them stored in the fridge where they should last for a few weeks. They can also be frozen if you want to keep them for longer.

Resources

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