Many misconceptions exist about the sun’s role in skin damage and how we can keep our skin—and bodies—healthy. So, let’s debunk some common myths and take an in-depth look at preventing and treating skin cancer and shoring up our skin health.
Though many people think of our organs as inside our bodies (brain, lungs, heart, etc.), our largest organ is our skin. In adults, it accounts for roughly 15 percent of our body weight and has a surface area of 16–22 square feet.1 This miraculous organ has several critical jobs: it protects our internal organs from extreme temperatures, excessive sun damage, and chemicals; manufactures protective vitamin D; and even produces antimicrobial peptides that shield the body from infection.2
But our skin takes a beating. And protecting it while still soaking up enough sunshine to confer health benefits can be tricky. After all, our main source of vitamin D production is sunlight, and we make this crucial, fat-soluble vitamin when our skin is exposed to the sun’s rays. Too much is harmful, but so is too little. Adequate vitamin D levels3 provide a host of benefits: improved immunity and protection against cancer, lower inflammation, and better absorption of calcium and other bone-building nutrients.
Getting a daily dose of sunshine—at least 20 minutes a day—is important. Beyond that, you need to protect your skin from overexposure leading to sunburn, cancer and other issues. But sun protection can be tricky, too.
As we smear on sunscreen to protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays, often we give little thought to the potentially harmful chemicals leaching into our skin. One particularly problematic chemical is benzene, a known hormone disrupter that has been linked to cancer. Spray sunscreens containing benzene are of particular concern,4 and several brands have been recalled. A landmark study published in Environmental Health specifically linked benzene exposure in workers to an increased risk of leukemia.5
Play it safe with sunscreen—use only mineral-based varieties that contain zinc oxide. Even better, protect yourself naturally with a wide-brimmed hat and loose-fitting, light-colored, long-sleeved garments. Several clothing items are available with built-in SPF.
Stay out of direct sunlight between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest, and be aware that UV rays can filter through windows in your home and vehicle.
There are two major categories of skin cancer: melanoma and nonmelanoma. The most common nonmelanoma cancers are basal and squamous cell carcinomas, so named because they typically begin in the basal and squamous layers of the skin.
Basal cell carcinomas are more prevalent than squamous cell carcinomas, and death from these types of cancers is rare,6 especially with early diagnosis and treatment. Of the two, squamous cell carcinomas can grow deeper into the skin and metastasize to other areas in the body.
Melanoma, which accounts for 1.7 percent of global cancer diagnoses,7 begins in the melanocytes. Typically linked with exposure to UV light, melanomas can develop on areas of the body that see little to no sunlight, including on the palms and soles of the feet, on the scalp, between toes or on the genitals.
While most skin cancer deaths are from melanoma, this form of skin cancer is far from a death sentence. Detected and treated early, before it can spread to the lymph nodes, it has a five-year survival rate of 99 percent.8 So, early detection and prompt care are key.
Extreme sun exposure and sunburn should be avoided at all costs. But other lifestyle factors play into skin cancer risk as well. For instance, epidemiological studies suggest melanoma is linked to hormone imbalances, and hormone levels are tied to nutrition, stress levels, body weight and certain medications.
Healthy lifestyle changes, such as getting plenty of sleep, eating nutrient-dense foods, meditating to reduce stress, and exercising daily are crucial ways to keep your hormones balanced and stay healthy in general.
I want to share the case of a 50-year-old male patient with recurrent stage 4 melanoma with metastasis to the liver. Early detection of recurrence with specialized blood tests of cancer biomarkers and treatment with integrative therapies led to an excellent response. I’m happy to report the patient is now in remission.
Bill came to us in January 2016 with an MRI-documented recurrence of melanoma, diagnosed as stage 4 with metastasis to the liver, initially suspected based on PHI, CTC and nagalase test results. After diagnosis with stage 3 melanoma in June 2014, Bill had already undergone surgeries to remove lesions on his back and left shin along with 12 lymph nodes—one of which had microscopic metastasis.
Bill had a clear PET scan in September 2014 and needed no further treatment at that time. His oncologist monitored him with blood work every three to six months, and his CT scan at the end of 2015 was negative. (The patient also has a history of thyroid cancer and in 2014 underwent radiation and thyroidectomy, surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid.)
Though he had no health complaints, given Bill’s history of cancer, at his first visit with us in January 2016, we wanted to shore up his immune function and overall health. Blood work revealed that his complete blood count (CBC), comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) were normal, and they remained so throughout his treatment course. But his PHI and CTC were high at 60 U/L and 9.3 cells/mL, respectively, which suggested ongoing cancer activity.
We started Bill on a three-month, multipronged protocol: thrice weekly hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), intravenous vitamin C and dichloroacetate sodium (DCA), twice weekly pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF), and weekly Light Beam Generator (LBG) and ozone therapy. We also prescribed four Supportive Oligonucleotide Therapy (SOT) treatments, spaced several months apart, beginning in October 2016.
Though his PHI and CTC levels initially fell, by late 2016, his PHI jumped to a very high 92.9 U/L, his CTC was 9.5 cells/mL, and his nagalase was elevated at 1.97 nmol/min/mg. These elevated levels prompted us to order scans in December 2016. The CT scan of the lungs was negative, but abdominal CT revealed two liver lesions. And a contrast-enhanced MRI of the abdomen found two lesions consistent with metastasis to his liver and several cystic lesions.
Once Bill was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, we ramped up his treatment protocol. He resumed HBOT three times a week, plus PEMF and IV therapies (vitamin C, DCA, poly MVA, selenium, and artesunate) twice a week. Bill also began weekly LBG and twice weekly hyperthermia treatments and started taking metformin 500 mg twice daily. He had a second SOT treatment in March 2017.
An abdominal MRI in April 2017 showed the larger lesion had shrunk and the second lesion was stable. We noted small cystic lesions, but no new lesions. MRI of the pelvis and CT of the chest were negative. CTC levels had dropped to 7.9 cells/mL, and PHI was normal at 30.7 U/L. Nagalase had also declined to high-normal at 0.94 nmol/min/mg.
Over the next few months, Bill continued IV vitamin C, selenium and artesunate weekly. He received his third SOT treatment in August 2017 and continued to do well. An MRI that month showed further shrinkage of the two lesions with small cystic lesions but nothing new.
He had a fourth SOT treatment in January 2018 and continued with HBOT twice or thrice weekly. Blood tests in February 2018 revealed that his PHI had dropped to 31.5 U/L and his nagalase to 0.66 nmol/min/mg, both normal. Abdominal MRI in April 2018 showed stable lesions with small cystic lesions and no new lesions.
We continued regular treatments and blood tests throughout 2018. Bill’s CTC further declined to 7.0 cells/mL in June, and his PHI also gradually declined. Interestingly, when the patient decreased his treatments, his PHI crept up, and when he resumed IVs and HBOT, it normalized. By December 2018, MRI of the abdomen showed a further decrease in the two liver lesions with small cystic lesions that were unchanged.
We stepped up his IV therapies in 2019, and in June, his PHI and nagalase levels were normal at 28.1 U/L and 0.75 nmol/min/mg respectively. MRI of the abdomen in June 2019 showed calcification of the liver lesions with no other lesions (except the cystic lesions) and no evidence of metastasis. Calcification, or the buildup of calcium in cells, is caused by inflammation and often leads to cancer. It can be treated using ionic calcium. MRI of the pelvis was also negative for metastasis.
The patient’s stage 4 melanoma has been in remission since June 2019. Abdominal MRI with and without contrast in December 2019 noted the presence of tiny stable cysts in the liver and no evidence of abdominal neoplasm, or new growths in the abdomen.
Bill returns for follow-ups with periodic testing and supportive treatments. His most recent CTC test was 5.2 cells/mL, much better than his initial 2016 test result of 9.3 cells/mL. His PHI levels have also been normal except for a temporary spike in January 2021.
The PHI spike could be due to high levels of palladium, a toxic heavy metal that suppresses immune function. He has received multiple EDTA chelation treatments, in which patients take ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid salts that bond to heavy metal molecules and remove them from the body. His previously high levels of lead, gadolinium, platinum, uranium and other metals had fallen, and his palladium level is slowly decreasing.
If you suspect skin cancer—or any cancer, for that matter—rest assured you have options regarding screening tools and diagnostic tests.
Early detection with specialized blood tests
Several specialized blood tests are extremely effective when it comes to early cancer detection. Though they are underutilized in conventional oncology, we use them regularly at the Cancer Center for Healing.
The tests listed below can identify biomarkers indicative of cancer activity before signs and symptoms show on physical exams, routine blood tests and imaging scans. They also help monitor treatment effectiveness and guide both conventional and integrative treatment protocols.
Scans are also helpful for monitoring treatment effectiveness and cancer status.
Since Bill’s recommended follow-up by his conventional oncologist was blood work every three to six months, this recurrence could have gone unnoticed had active cancer biomarkers not been detected by PHI, CTC and nagalase tests. Early indications of cancer activity enabled us to begin treatment months before the December 2016 MRI confirmation of metastatic melanoma.
Five years of comprehensive treatments, regular blood tests and scans led to a remarkable recovery. Some of the therapies we used to treat Bill have direct anti-cancer effects, and others stimulate the immune system or enhance overall health. All are well tolerated, do not damage healthy tissues and often help protect against adverse effects of conventional cancer treatments. Bill had few side effects and reported stable energy, a regular appetite, and no pain or other symptoms.
Bill’s case illustrates how the underused cancer biomarkers (PHI, CTC and nagalase) and the integrative therapies we use at the Cancer Center for Healing merit broader use and more research to demonstrate their mode of action, safety and ability to increase long-term survival.
Dr Connealy often uses the following treatments, which harm cancer cells but are either neutral or beneficial to healthy cells.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) increases oxygen in the cells, including in cancer cells, which love an anaerobic environment.
Hyperthermia therapy is like a targeted fever. It uses ultra-high frequency radio waves to raise the temperature in cancer cells, killing them.
Light Beam Generator (LBG) therapy uses a low current of negatively charged photons to stimulate cell-level waste disposal and lymphatic flow, removing waste and toxins from the body.
Ozone therapy hyper-oxygenates the body, making it inhospitable to cancer and boosting the immune system.
Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy emits electromagnetic frequencies into the body to make cells more permeable, which boosts the function of healthy cells and weakens cancer cells.
Supportive Oligonucleotide Therapy (SOT) is also known as Antisense Oligodeoxynucleotide Therapy (AOT). It kills cancer cells, certain viruses and Lyme-causing bacteria by preventing them from replicating.
It’s essential that everyone perform regular skin checks. Prevention and early detection are crucial when it comes to skin cancer treatment. Any unusual growth or sore that doesn’t heal on its own or any suspicious mole should be investigated further. Use the following guidelines in your assessment.
Asymmetry – Look for asymmetrical moles in which the two halves do not match.
Border – The borders of an early skin cancer are often uneven. Look for edges that are scalloped or notched.
Color – Various colors within the same mole are another warning signal and may indicate skin cancer.
Diameter – Skin cancers are typically larger in diameter than the size of a pencil eraser.
Evolving – Any size, shape, or color change warrants further investigation.