Navigating Sun Exposure & Protecting Your DNA 

Navigating Sun Exposure & Protecting Your DNA 

In the realm of holistic health, understanding the multifaceted impact of sun exposure on skin health is paramount. As we delve into this topic, we’ll explore the scientific underpinnings of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, its effects on DNA, and underscore the crucial role of shielding your skin from potential harm. 

The Unseen Forces: Unraveling UV Radiation 

Sunlight, a life-sustaining force, carries a spectrum of light, including invisible UV radiation. It’s important to note that not all UV radiation is created equal. Categorized into UVA, UVB, and UVC rays, each component possesses distinct characteristics. UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, sparing us their impact. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, contributing to long-term damage, while UVB rays primarily affect the outer layers, causing sunburn and immediate harm. 

DNA Damage and Photodamage 

Emerging scientific research has illuminated the intricate relationship between UV radiation and DNA. It is understood that DNA lesions can persistently impair skin cells even after sun exposure has ended. This revelation underscores the critical need for ongoing sun protection strategies, especially for individuals with fair skin, or heightened susceptibility due to their genetics. 

Genetic Susceptibility and Skin Health 

Each individuals genetic makeup can significantly influence their skin health journey. Consider individuals with a genetic predisposition like xeroderma pigmentosum, which compromises DNA repair mechanisms. This genetic background underscores the importance of proactive preventive measures and regular skin assessments. 

A Holistic Approach to Sun Protection 

Naturopathic medicine offers a holistic approach to sun protection that extends beyond mere sunscreen application. Our goal is to fortify the skin’s resilience by nourishing from the inside out. Incorporating antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries and green tea, staying hydrated, and 

integrating skin-friendly supplements can enhance the skin’s defense against UV-induced damage. 

Nurturing Skin Health Holistically 

The intricate dance between sun exposure and skin health demands our attention and informed action. By comprehending the nuances of UV radiation and its DNA repercussions, you’re poised to take proactive steps toward preserving your skin’s well-being. A holistic approach that integrates external protection and internal fortification can contribute to resilient, radiant skin that mirrors your overall vitality. 

Prioritize your skin’s health, and let knowledge be your shield against sun-induced damage.


UV Protection.” American Cancer Society

Hamblin, James. “Sun Damages DNA in Skin Cells Long After Exposure.” Scientific American, 27 Mar. 2015, 

De Laat, Antoine, and Wim Vermeulen. “Xeroderma Pigmentosum: A Glimpse into Nucleotide Excision Repair, Genetic Instability, and Cancer.” Cell Cycle, vol. 6, no. 7, 2007, pp. 775-779, 

Premi, Sanjay, et al. “Chemically Damaged Hair Exacerbates UV Radiation-Induced Skin Damage, Inflammation, and DNA Damage in Mice.” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, 2017, article no. 12040,

Tyrrell, Richard M. “Solar Ultraviolet A Radiation: An Oxidative Stressor.” Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, vol. 571, no. 1-2, 2005, pp. 153-162, 

DNA: Decoding Destiny or Empowering Choice? Unraveling the Secrets of Genomics in Medicine 

DNA: Decoding Destiny or Empowering Choice? Unraveling the Secrets of Genomics in Medicine 

Advancements over the years

The 21st century has witnessed astounding advancements in medicine, and among them, genomics stands tall as one of the most captivating fields. Genomics has opened up new possibilities for understanding and addressing health issues, with oncology being at the forefront of its applications. While many people may have heard of the BRCA genes in relation to breast cancer, the influence of genetics on cancer is far more intricate. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating world of genomics in the context of naturopathic medicine, shedding light on the significance of germline and somatic DNA, as well as the influence of genetics on cancer predisposition. Germline and Somatic DNA: The Key to Our Life Story At the heart of every individual lies a unique genetic blueprint known as germline DNA. This genetic makeup remains unchanged throughout one’s life, capturing the essence of our being. However, in the realm of cancer, mutations can arise within specific tissues, leading to somatic mutations. These alterations cause the tumor’s DNA to differ from the individual’s germline DNA, creating a critical distinction between the two types. 

RELATED: Integrative Cancer Care: Enhancing Healing and Well-being 

The guardian gene – TP53: a tale of faulty brakes 

Imagine TP53 as the guardian of the cell, acting like brakes on a car to regulate cell growth and prevent tumor formation. Variants in the TP53 gene can either be inherited from parents, present in germline DNA, or acquired later in life due to environmental factors or spontaneous errors during cell division, manifesting as somatic mutations. Inheriting a TP53 mutation can predispose individuals to early-onset cancers, such as breast carcinomas, sarcomas, brain tumors, and adrenocortical carcinomas. Although TP53 mutations contribute to about 17% of all familial cancer cases, it is essential to note that not all TP53 mutations are inherited. Surprisingly, TP53 mutations are observed in almost every type of cancer, irrespective of family history. This underscores the role of both genetics and lifestyle choices in cancer development, emphasizing the significance of predisposition. 

RELATED: Integrative Cancer Care Part Two

Lynch Syndrome: when DNA becomes destiny 

Within the intricate world of genetics, not all genes exhibit the same penetrance or clinical effects. Lynch syndrome is a prime example of this phenomenon, following an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. For individuals with Lynch syndrome, there is a 50% chance of passing it on to their children. The syndrome carries an increased risk of colorectal and endometrial cancers, particularly before the age of 50. A single copy of the gene mutation from either parent is sufficient to elevate the risk for the children. Here, the DNA can indeed become destiny.

Harnessing genomics for cancer prevention: 

In light of these genetic revelations, testing options to screen for germline and somatic variants have become invaluable tools for clinicians and patients alike. Such data empowers medical practitioners to make informed decisions about early screenings, identify environmental factors to avoid, and provide crucial insights for at-risk family members. Nevertheless, genetics is not the sole determinant of cancer risk. Lifestyle choices play a pivotal role in cancer prevention and overall health. To minimize the risk of cancer and keep cells healthy, consider incorporating the following practices: 

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Strive for a balanced diet and regular exercise routine. 

2. Avoid Tobacco: Say no to smoking and smokeless tobacco products. 3. Embrace a Nutrient-Rich Diet: Incorporate antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries and leafy greens. 

4. Sun Protection: Shield yourself from harmful UV rays to protect your skin from DNA damage. 

5. Safe Sexual Practices: Protect against sexually transmitted infections, including the DNA-linked HPV virus. 

6. Regular Screening: Stay proactive with recommended screening tests to catch potential issues early. 


The fusion of genomics and naturopathic medicine has unlocked a new era of understanding human health, particularly in the context of cancer predisposition. By recognizing the roles of germline and somatic DNA, we gain deeper insights into our life story and the genetic factors that can influence our health journey. While genetics certainly play a role, lifestyle choices also significantly impact our well-being. Armed with this knowledge, individuals can take proactive steps to mitigate risk factors and embrace a healthier, happier life. Remember, genetics may set the stage, but it’s up to us to direct the play. 


Ligtenberg, Marjolijn JL, et al. “Heritable somatic methylation and inactivation of MSH2 in families with Lynch syndrome due to deletion of the 3′ exons of TACSTD1.” Nature genetics 41.1 (2009): 112-117. 

Vos, Janet R., et al. “Evaluation of yield and experiences of age‐related molecular investigation for heritable and nonheritable causes of mismatch repair deficient colorectal cancer to identify Lynch syndrome.” International journal of cancer 147.8 (2020): 2150-2158.

Frebourg, Thierry, et al. “Guidelines for the Li–Fraumeni and heritable TP53-related cancer syndromes.” European Journal of Human Genetics 28.10 (2020): 1379-1386. 

Hanson, Helen, et al. “UKCGG Consensus Group guidelines for the management of patients with constitutional TP53 pathogenic variants.” Journal of Medical Genetics 58.2 (2021): 135-139. 

Dou, Yanmei, et al. “Detecting somatic mutations in normal cells.” Trends in Genetics 34.7 (2018): 545-557. 

Gullett, Norleena P., et al. “Cancer prevention with natural compounds.” Seminars in oncology. Vol. 37. No. 3. WB Saunders, 2010. 

Godic, Aleksandar, et al. “The role of antioxidants in skin cancer prevention and treatment.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity 2014 (2014).

Integrative Cancer Care: Part Two

Integrative Cancer Care: Part Two

Last week Dr. Ruch swung the door open to our latest treatment area: cancer care. Today she’s walking us through the next couple phases of her approach and what you can expect here.

Establishing Goals and Treatment Options 

At Minneapolis Integrative Medicine Center, our primary goal is to enhance the quality of life for our patients throughout their cancer journey. We are dedicated to managing treatment side effects, expediting recovery, and preventing recurrence, all while providing education and support to empower our patients. 

Our treatment plans are rooted in evidence-based practices and incorporate various aspects of lifestyle modifications. We understand the impact of diet on overall health and cancer outcomes, and therefore, we offer personalized diet recommendations. For example, we may suggest reducing dairy product consumption to minimize exposure to environmental estrogens, which can support hormonal balance and reduce the risk of cancer progression. 

RELATED: Integrative Cancer Care: Enhancing Healing and Well-being : Part One

In addition to dietary guidance, we utilize IV therapy when appropriate. IV therapy can effectively alleviate chemotherapy-related fatigue, replenish antioxidant stores, and enhance tumor sensitivity to chemotherapy. By tailoring treatment options to each patient’s unique needs, we aim to optimize the efficacy of their cancer treatment while minimizing the burden of side effects. To ensure the success of certain treatments–adherence to specific schedules may be necessary. For instance, we may recommend discontinuing antioxidant supplements one week prior to radiation therapy to maximize their effectiveness. These carefully planned interventions are designed to work synergistically with conventional treatments, promoting positive outcomes and enhancing the overall therapeutic response. 

Throughout the treatment process, we provide continuous education and support to our patients. We believe that empowering individuals with knowledge about their condition and treatment options enable them to make informed decisions and actively participate in their own healing journey. Our team is committed to being a reliable resource, answering questions, addressing concerns, and offering guidance at every step of the way. By integrating these elements into our practice, we strive to optimize treatment outcomes, improve quality of life, and foster a sense of empowerment in our patients as they navigate the challenges of cancer care. 

Achieving Positive Outcomes 

At Minneapolis Integrative Medicine Center, we proudly offer naturopathic support as part of our comprehensive range of supportive therapies. Our approach focuses on harnessing natural, non-toxic techniques to bolster the body’s self-healing process. We deeply understand the risks and benefits associated with conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. We acknowledge the uniqueness of each patient and their treatment journey. What truly sets us apart is our unwavering dedication to actively listen to your concerns and symptoms, ensuring that your voice is heard and your needs are met. By fostering a team-based approach to cancer care, we cultivate interprofessional trust and collaboration, promoting effective and clear communication among all members of your healthcare team. At Minneapolis Integrative Medicine Center, we are here to support you every step of the way on your path to healing and well-being. 

Integrative Cancer Care: Enhancing       Healing and Well-being 

Integrative Cancer Care: Enhancing Healing and Well-being 


An Overwhelming Need 

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am witness to the overwhelming need for holistic cancer care. In the United States alone, approximately 2.0 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. It is no surprise that the demand for complementary and alternative medicine among cancer patients ranges from 22% to 91%. Responding to this demand, the profession of naturopathic oncology has flourished, with 115 board-certified Fellows of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology. This growth is driven by the desire for integrative cancer treatments and the growing body of research supporting the safety and effectiveness of natural and supportive therapies. 

Cultivating Collaboration 

Throughout my medical training, I have learned the importance of collaboration and mutual respect among healthcare providers. Naturopathic Doctors, like myself, are not seeking to replace the crucial role of Medical Oncologists. In fact, we actively support advanced training for Naturopathic Doctors in Oncology through organizations like OncANP. Those who successfully complete this training earn the esteemed status of Fellow from the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO), signifying their commitment to the highest standards of the profession. 

Naturopathic Doctors hold conventional treatments in high regard, recognizing their integral role in controlling cancer progression and achieving remission. The strength of naturopathic medicine lies in its team-based approach. By collaborating with cancer specialists, we can effectively manage and alleviate the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Leveraging the diverse expertise of our colleagues, we tailor treatment plans to meet the unique needs of each patient. 

RELATED: Breast Cancer + Environmental Toxicity: Could What You’re Exposed to Impact Your Risk?

The Patient-Centered Process 

Before a patient’s initial visit, our team requests copies of essential information to ensure a comprehensive assessment during the new patient intake. We review notes from their medical oncologist, past laboratory studies, and details of their conventional treatment, including their chemotherapy infusion schedule if applicable. 

During the first visit, we prioritize getting to know our patients on a personal level. This crucial encounter spans 90 minutes, allowing us to delve deeply into their past and current health history. We understand that this process can be emotional and overwhelming, which is why we encourage patients to bring along their support network for their initial appointment. 

Uncovering the root cause of illness requires an in-depth intake. We evaluate environmental factors, including occupation and work environment, recognizing that certain exposures may contribute to cancer development or affect treatment outcomes. By understanding these factors, we can provide tailored recommendations to minimize potential risks.

RELATED: How Your Body’s Microbiome Can Impact Your Breast Health

Lifestyle choices play a significant role in cancer prevention and management. We delve into diet, sleep habits, smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug use, recognizing their impact on overall health and treatment outcomes. Our goal is to empower patients with evidence-based guidance on making positive changes that support their healing process. 

Allergies, whether related to medications, dietary factors, or environmental triggers, are always accounted for. By identifying and addressing allergens, we aim to optimize treatment outcomes and minimize potential adverse reactions. 

Relevant family history is a crucial aspect of our assessment, as genetic factors can influence cancer risk and treatment response. We consider familial patterns and potential hereditary conditions to guide our personalized treatment plans. 

Comorbid conditions, if present, are thoroughly evaluated to understand their potential impact on the disease trajectory and treatment options. By taking into account the patient’s overall health, we can develop a comprehensive plan that considers their specific needs and ensures the best possible outcomes. 

After gathering all the necessary information, we collaborate with the Medical Oncologist to ensure alignment and consensus regarding the treatment plan. Once the entire care team is in agreement, we maintain regular communication with the patient and begin implementing the recommended strategies.

Big thank you to Dr. Ruch for sharing her expertise in integrative cancer care. We are lucky to have her on the team and will be back next week with part two!