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Dr. Melanie Bone is a beloved gynecologist devoted to helping women achieve their maximum health and well-being. Since opening her own practice in 1991 in Palm Beach County, Dr. Bone has delivered thousands of babies and provided gynecological care to countless women in her community, all while raising four children and surviving Stage III breast cancer. Currently serving on the Board of Directors of BreastCancer.org, Dr. Bone is involved in a number of nonprofit organizations including her very own, Dr. Bone's Cancer Comforts, which is devoted to providing goods to ease cancer treatments. She also writes a weekly column in the Palm Beach Post called “Surviving Life” and authored a book with the Reverend Dr. Richard Cromie titled A Journey Through Cancer.
A strong believer in aging gracefully without cowing to societal pressures to appear younger, Dr. Bone has taken a keen interest in helping her patients feel beautiful inside and out. In the past year, her practice expanded to offer non-invasive beauty procedures and products, located on the web at BeautytotheBone.com. Given her medical background and her recent foray into the cosmetic realm, Dr. Bone offers a unique perspective on looking and feeling young. Read the first part of our conversation with Dr. Bone here, and then continue from where we left off yesterday.
What is your personal philosophy on maximizing health and beauty?
I believe that beauty starts on the inside. Finding happiness is the most important thing in life, as it stabilizes your endorphins and controls other hormones that may contribute to disease development. There have been many studies showing a direct correlation between low antioxidant levels in the body and the development of everything from wrinkles to cancer! Antioxidants are used up every instant in our bodies to fight stressors (smoke, emotional fight, nerve-racking travel) and are taken in through food, supplements, and skin. If cigarette smoke is regularly absorbed into the lungs, then the body will have increased exposure to reactive oxygen species and will have an increased need for antioxidants. Steady vitamin supplements and managing stress are lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference.
Are there any specific supplements that you would recommend?
There is a fairly new measuring tool called the BioPhotonic Scanner, which uses a noninvasive light scan to produce a reading of the carotenoid score in palmar tissues. It is currently a reliable method for obtaining an approximation of the body’s total antioxidant status. A good resource for reading about this technology is Louis Cady’s report on the BioPhotonic Scanner. Although the average level is 25,000-29,000, it is recommended to have an antioxidant level of about 45,000. The first time I took the scan, my reading was 13,000. I started taking vitamins through Lifepak Nano supplements, and my score is now regularly 45,000. After being on Lifepak Nano for about six months, I noticed changes. I now have boundless energy and people continuously compliment me on my skin. Any multivitamin will be beneficial, but I prefer Lifepak Nano because of its special nutrient absorption technology.
What is the most necessary nutrient to receive by supplements?
Vitamin D has become the latest love child of nutrients. A fat-soluble vitamin that occurs naturally in very few foods, vitamin D is most easily taken in as a dietary supplement. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with breast cancer, osteoporosis, and rickets in children. Other roles in health include controlling neuromuscular and immune function and reducing skin inflammation. The FDA’s recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is around 800 international units, but really, people should be getting way more than that for optimal health. Up to a third of women are deficient in vitamin D, even here in Florida where they are constantly exposed to the sun (a source of vitamin D). What happens is they are using sunscreen, which interferes with vitamin D production, or they are avoiding dairy because of its higher cholesterol content. Although there is plenty of evidence for the health benefits of vitamin D supplements, I don’t know the value of vitamin D in topical products.
Do you think that there might be a link between certain chemicals in topical products (ie. estrogenic hormones) and cancer?
As far as estrogen-containing products and cancer, I believe there are no definitive studies linking any specific products with increased risk of estrogen-related cancers. Of course, there is always hype, like the danger of lipstick coloring and contamination, but I feel that the true risks are not as high as the perceived risks. Products with fewer chemicals are always felt to be safer.
What is your advice for protecting skin from the sun and maintaining an adequate SPF regimen?
My recipe for preventing skin cancer includes: avoiding the sun at peak hours (10 am - 2 pm); maintaining an SPF of at least 30, but not necessarily higher as there is little benefit from going over 30; using a product with both UVA and UVB protection - usually these contain a mineral screen as well as a chemical screen; wearing SPF clothing when doing activities outdoors for prolonged periods of time (Solumbra or Sun Precautions are two good brands); moisturizing daily, preferably with niacin-containing products; and lastly, remembering to have a full skin exam at a board-certified dermatologist’s office- once a year for most people, but more frequently for those with family histories of melanoma or a personal history of skin or other cancers.
Any closing thoughts on cancer and aging in general?
Cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It made me realize that I don’t need anyone else’s approval to do what makes me happy and that it’s ok to be fallible. My dream is to take the stigma out of the word "CANCER." Today, it is not the death sentence that it was in the past. More people die of their first heart attack than their first round of cancer. If only I could help others conquer their pervasive fear of cancer, then perhaps we could approach it more like we do checking sugars to prevent diabetes or cholesterol to prevent heart disease. I hope that one day genetic testing to predict cancer risk will be universal. Also, aging does not need to be something to run away from. Why is it that men are fine with the aging process, and yet women have traditionally equated youth and beauty with fame and fortune? I’d like to see people embrace aging like they do in Japan, where the older generations are revered.