WHAT IT IS: Nails may be deformed, discolored, brittle, weak, or flaking.
Skin may be dry, wrinkled, or sunburned. Hair may be dull, oily, dry, or thinning.
YOU ARE AT INCREASED RISK IF YOU
• are taking medication that affects your hair, skin, or nails
• are a smoker
• have a family history of hair, skin, or nail problems
• have an autosomal recessive disease (such as trichothiodystrophy) that makes hair brittle
• have yellow nail syndrome
• have onychomycosis (a fungal infection of the nails)
• have an eating disorder, are malnourished, or have nutritional deficiencies
• have food allergies that cause skin inflammation
FOODS TO INCREASE
• Eggs, wheat germ, and oatmeal. They are rich in biotin, which thickened nails in one study by 25 percent over six months.
• Chocolate. The skin of women who consumed a high flavonol (326 milligrams) cocoa powder dissolved in about 3.5 ounces of water every day for twelve weeks became 12 percent thicker and retained more moisture. Cocoa also acts as a UV blocker.
• Omega-3 rich foods. They act as a sunscreen and decrease the risk of squamous cell skin cancer by more than 20 percent.
• Tomato juice and tomato paste. Men given about 1.5 ounces of tomatopaste with two teaspoons of olive oil for ten weeks were found to have 40 percent less sunburn than those who ate just olive oil, probably because of increased skin carotenoids and decreased free radical absorption generated by UV light.
• Foods rich in vitamin C. The babies of nursing mothers who ate more vitamin C–rich foods had a 70 percent reduced risk of eczema. Men who ate the most foods rich in vitamin C had their risk of oral premalignant lesions cut almost in half compared to those who ate few or none. This was not true of men who took vitamin C supplements.
• Vegetables, olive oil, fish, and legumes. An international study of Greek and Swedish people living both in their native countries and abroad showed that those who ate the most of these foods had less skin wrinkling than those who ate the least.
• Tea, and black tea with citrus peel. A study showed that the risk of skin cancer was reduced by as much as one-half by regularly drinking tea, especially in those who had been drinking it for a long time (forty-seven years or more) and those who drank two or more cups a day. The polyphenols in tea may protect against the carcinogenic effect of UV radiation.
The anticancer results were even more marked
when citrus peel was combined with the tea: in an Arizona study,those who reported consuming both hot black tea and citrus peel hadan 88 percent reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
FOODS TO AVOID
• Alcohol (especially in binges). Of almost thirty thousand people polled, those who reported binge drinking also reported the highest incidence of sunburn. Sunburn can lead to melanoma or basal cell carcinoma.
TOP CHEFMD-APPROVED RECIPES
• Broccoli, Cheese, and Kalamata Olive Pizza
• Creamy Goat Cheese Pesto Omelet
• Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean) Soup
WATER-COOLER FACT: Women who are very stressed are eleven times more likely to experience hair loss than those who are not. Squamous cell skin cancers appear more often on the left side of the face because of sun exposure while driving.