If you’ve ever had a blistering sunburn, used a tanning salon, or just spent too much time in the sun, you need to read this.

More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer before the age of 70 and many are diagnosed in their 30’s and 40’s.

I can’t tell you how many times a young woman (yes, skin cancer impacts young women too) asks me casually about a little “pimple” that isn’t going away and it turns out being a skin cancer that requires extensive surgery and changes her life forever.

Even the tiniest little ditzel on the nose can require a flap, a graft, and leave you with a permanent scar.

Unfortunately, most of my patients don’t actually start practicing sun safe behaviors until they get that dreaded phone call.

Every time I make a phone call to give a patient a diagnosis of skin cancer, I get a terrible pain in my stomach and an ache in my heart. It’s probably the hardest part of my job.

Although we know how important sunscreen can be when it comes to skin cancer prevention, even people at high risk for skin cancer often forget to apply or reapply. With skin cancer on the rise, there’s an obvious need for additional preventive measures.

You guys have heard me recommend sun protective clothing, a broad rimmed hat, sunglasses, and you’re probably sick of hearing me tell you to seek shade during the peak hours of sun exposure (11-2pm). Now there’s mounting evidence that taking a certain vitamin can provide even greater protection.

Recent studies show that taking an oral supplement called nicotinamide every day can actually reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3 but, unlike its cousin, niacin, nicotinamide does not cause flushing or headaches. It’s actually very well tolerated and has a great safety profile. Studies, including one in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that taking nicotinamide daily can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer.

How does it work?  UV rays increase your risk of skin cancer in 3 main ways: by damaging the DNA in your skin cells, suppressing your own natural immune response to tumor growth, and last, by depleting the energy stores in the form of ATP.  Normally ATP is used by your skin cells to repair damage, but sun exposure makes our ATP levels plummet, so we don’t have the cellular energy to repair the DNA damage that’s being done. Nicotinamide is actually used by the body to make more ATP, so it boosts cellular energy and enhances DNA repair. When you take nicotinamide, it helps to build up enough cellular energy to repair the damage done by harmful UV rays.  

The form of nicotinamide I recommend to my patients is Heliocare Advanced. I often recommend Heliocare to my patients who want to be proactive about having healthy, radiant skin. However, for those of you who know you’ve seen a bit too much sun in your day (yeah, you know who you are!), I’d highly recommend using the new Heliocare Advanced supplement every morning. The added nicotinamide is exactly what your skin needs. If you’ve had skin cancer already, it’s a no brainer.

With this post, my hope is to reach at least one person before he or she gets that dreaded phone call, and I’m hoping it protects him or her from that experience forever. My intention is never to scare you – it is to inform and empower you with the most recent advancement to optimize your health and of course, the health of your beautiful skin! I am honored to partner with Heliocare to bring you this information.


Dr. Whitney

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The science surrounding nutrition and the skin is my passion. I am fascinated by the reality that we can heal our skin through something as accessible and simple as our diet! But, I am not going to recommend “fads” to my patients. Anything I recommend has to be the real deal, grounded in studies, and proven to be safe and effective.

I know how critical collagen is to our skin’s health, appearance and elasticity. Collagen is actually the most abundant, naturally occurring protein in our body. It’s essential to the health of our skin, bones, joints, cartilage, hair and nails!

A little science for my fellow science geeks out there!

Collagen is a triple helix, meaning it is comprised of 3 long chains of peptides that wrap around one another. These long, thick peptide ropes live in our dermal layer (the deeper layer of our skin) and keep our skin plump, elastic and smooth. Long chains of peptides like collagen create the scaffolding our skin requires to remain firm and healthy. When our collagen fibrils and other peptide chains start to break down faster than they can be replaced, as a result of age, sun exposure and other environmental triggers like stress, pollution and smoking, it shows up in our skin as wrinkles and loss of elasticity.

Specifically, beginning in our mid-twenties, we begin to lose approximately 1 percent of collagen per year. During menopause, our skin loses collagen very quickly. Studies show that our skin loses up to 30 percent of its collagen during the first five years of menopause, after which the decline in collagen is approximately 2 percent each year! So, the concept of supplementing our collagen, especially as we age and as our body’s natural collagen production declines, is incredibly appealing from a dermatological standpoint!

To be completely transparent, when I first considered the efficacy of ingestible collagen, I was a bit of a skeptic. I questioned how such a large collagen chain could first survive our harsh gastric juices, then be absorbed intact through tiny openings in our gut lining, and ultimately arrive into the skin to help smooth and plump our skin’s appearance. I was extremely intrigued by the delivery mechanism and wanted to better understand how this might work.

So, I took a deep dive into the studies and became more and more excited about what I was seeing.

How Does Ingestible Collagen Help to Smooth Your Skin?

Here’s the quick, quick version: the collagen you eat and drink goes into your stomach, where an enzyme called pepsin breaks it down into fragments. These fragments consist of strands of 2 or 3 amino acids and are called dipeptides and tripeptides. They are then absorbed through your gastrointestinal lining where they are released into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, the fragments are able to travel to different parts of your body, including your skin, your hair follicles, your bones, and your cartilage. When these fragments arrive, they act like stress signals, notifying your body that “damage has been done”, which tells your body that it is time to go into “repair mode.”

Studies show that if you take collagen on a daily basis for between 4 and 12 weeks, it can improve skin elasticity, hydration, and even improve the appearance of wrinkles. Although these studies are considered small and somewhat preliminary, they are very promising, which helps to explain why the ingestible collagen market is exploding!

My Favorite Collagen Supplements

Not all collagen supplements are created equal!! I have tested and reviewed the studies behind many of the products that are on the market today. One product stood out to me and has become my personal favorite – and the brand that I recommend to my patients – Body Kitchen™ Peptide Fortified Collagen.

Based on my review of both published and unpublished literature, it is becoming clear that certain fragments, or di-peptides, are more effective or potent than others. That’s how certain collagen powders stand out! Body Kitchen™  collagen is fortified with HYP-Proline + HYP-Glycine, which also go by “PO” and “OG” — two di-peptides that have been shown to stimulate proliferation of skin fibroblasts AND boost hyaluronic acid production in the skin. The highly concentrated formula makes Body Kitchen’s supplements more potent and more effective than competitor products.

I am genuinely so impressed with the quality and science behind these products that I became BK’s Physician Ambassador. I’m so excited to share this cutting edge line of supplements with you!



Great for: addressing signs of aging, Melasma, protection against skin cancer

Sunscreen doesn’t protect against half of the free radical damage we face every day. That’s where your Heliocare natural supplement comes into play. Heliocare is a patented specialized extract of Polypodium leucotomos (PLE), a tropical fern native to Central and South America that has been used for centuries as a remedy for skin related conditions. The science behind Heliocare is strong and solid, which is critical to me when I recommend a product to people who trust me or use it myself.

Made of a powerful blend of antioxidants, Heliocare protects your skin from the inside out from free radicals. Those free radicals can come from UV light, infrared light, visible light, pollution, or even from our natural metabolic processes. Heliocare is one extra layer of protection against premature signs of aging, including brown spots, and skin cancer. I suggest that my patients take one pill every morning. If you’re heading out in the sun, consider taking 2 each morning. But it’s not a substitute for sunscreen. It’s meant to work synergistically with sunscreen.

Studies have shown the fern extract protects against free radicals, so it is one of the best ways to protect against hyperpigmentation. My Melasma patients swear by Heliocare. Once they start using it, they finally see their skin start to brighten and their tone start to even out. I am honored to partner with Heliocare to bring you this information!


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This site offers health, wellness, fitness and nutritional information for educational purposes only. The information on this website is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

© 2018 - Dr. Whitney Bowe

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