Archive for August, 2013

Tattoos, moles, and melanoma

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A new report suggests that skin cancer can sometimes hide in a tattoo. Writing in JAMA Dermatology, three German clinicians describe the case of a young man who wanted to remove large, multicolored tattoos on his arms and chest. During the removal process, his doctors discovered a suspicious mole inside the tattoo. It turned out to be cancerous—stage II melanoma. Tattoos may make it difficult to evaluate moles. Laser removal therapy is also problematic when moles are present. If you are considering getting a tattoo, either make sure it will be applied to skin that is free or moles or birthmarks, or have your doctor check any moles in the to-be-tattooed area beforehand. If you are planning to have a tattoo removed, check for moles within the tattoo. If you see any, ask your doctor or dermatologist to check them out before starting laser therapy.

High intake of omega-3 fats linked to increased prostate cancer risk

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

The omega-3 fats in fish have been linked to all sorts of health benefits, including protection against prostate cancer. But for the second time in two years, researchers have found a link between high levels of omega-3 fats in the blood and prostate cancer. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle men with high levels of omega-3 fats were 43% more likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer than men with low levels. The finding were published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.