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February 2014

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Concluding African American History Month – Or Not

All this month we’ve been reminding people that African Americans (and others with naturally dark skin) can get skin cancer, too. And, as African American History Month concludes, we at Coolibar would like to ensure that the flow of information about cancer and skin of color does not.

Skin cancer – particularly melanoma – has been shown to be much deadlier to African Americans than for Caucasians. The Skin Cancer Foundation points out that 52 percent of non-Hispanic black patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced stage melanoma, compared to 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.

There are several reasons for this, including that squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the most common skin cancer in African Americans, tends to be more aggressive and can carry up to a 40% chance of spreading.

But many of us also still believe that African American skin, with its higher melanin content, is just highly resistant to developing cancer caused by the sun. African Americans simply tend to seek treatment much later because skin cancer isn’t top of mind.

In fact, typical African American skin protects at the equivalent of a 13.4 SPF sunscreen. (SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it mostly measures UVB radiation that causes darkening or burning on the surface of the skin). UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, measures UVB and UVA radiation. UVA penetrates deeply into the skin and is, by far, the most prevalent of the sun’s radiation.

Effective sun protection starts at UPF 30, and should ideally be UPF 50 or higher.

There is more to be repeated, remembered and learned; for example, the Skin Cancer Foundation has some excellent facts about ethnicity and the dangers of the sun.

African American History Month may come to an end. But the effort to defeat skin cancer continues year round!

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New Findings: Indoor Tanning is to Skin Cancer as Smoking is to Lung Cancer

If you believe that indoor tanning isn’t dangerous, this finding from a study recently released by JAMA Dermatology might change that.

In likely the first summary of international indoor tanning exposure, researchers determined that the number of diagnosed skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.

Can It Be True?   

Taken at face value, the study tells us what smoking is to lung cancer, indoor tanning is to skin cancer. And in fact JAMA Dermatology provides documented evidence gathered in the US, Australia and Northern and Western Europe. Researchers reported:

“Overall, we estimate 419,039 cases of basal and squamous cell carcinoma (NMSC) and 10,888 cases of melanoma each year attributable to indoor tanning. To put this in perspective, approximately 362,941 cases of lung cancer are attributable to smoking each year in these regions.”

However, the same study notes that the general risk for lung cancer is much higher (it assumes 90 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses are attributable to smoking) than for skin cancer (up to 22 percent among indoor tanners). And the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on February 4 that lung, breast and colon cancers are still the most diagnosed worldwide.

But the new figures suggest an even more alarming trend. While smoking is declining worldwide, indoor tanning may actually be increasing. And the Skin Cancer Foundation cites a study by the American Cancer Society which says that each year in the US there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Work To Be Done

Several US states have banned or restricted indoor tanning, and many others are considering it. But, while the WHO considers indoor tanning a group 1 carcinogen, tanning beds in the US are still regulated by the FDA as Class 1 medical devices (the same as bandages and tongue depressors).

Perhaps the best context for the work that still needs to be done comes from the JAMA Dermatology researchers, who said: “Despite the mounting evidence of harms of indoor tanning, data on the scope of this problem, with which to guide public health efforts are missing.”

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Warm Winter Olympics All the Better for Sun Protection

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics - Coolibar

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, if only to imagine what it’s like to slide down an ice-covered slope at 80-plus miles per hour on purpose. If you’ve been watching too, you likely saw something unexpected: temperatures topped 17 degrees C. in Sochi (that would be more than 60 degrees here at Coolibar headquarters near Minneapolis, MN, which hasn’t happened in a while). This is the Winter Olympics?

Especially as we look at these photos from February 12 in the Mail Online, we’re reminded once again how important it is to protect ourselves from the sun year round. In fact, sun protection is much easier to overlook during winter, when exposure tends to be more intermittent. UVA and UVB rays are always a danger for unprotected skin regardless of the temperature or time of year.

One of our heroes, Julia Mancuso – a US Olympic alpine skier who won a bronze medal February 10 in the Ladies Super Combined, which is an official name for “flying down an icy slope at 80 mph”– is already on top of it. Aware of the dangers, especially at higher altitudes with the sun reflecting off of snow, she shares her story and her tips for staying sun safe with the American Academy of Dermatology.

While sitting in the sun sure looks more fun than, say, missing a gate in the Olympic downhill, let’s remember to take care of ourselves. Here are our SunAWARE tips, good all year round:

SunAWARE tips

 

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Blue is “In” for Spring 2014, and That’s Not All

There’s a certain magic behind Coolibar products for Spring 2014. And, while UPF 50+ sun protection provides its own technical wonders, this magic has much more to do with color – bright, positive, life-in-the-sun kind of color – and patterns that accentuate both what we do and how you feel.

To start: the color blue is officially “in” for spring. So are ranges of mints and corals, along with striking prints that call to mind soft, light, watery brushstrokes that reflect the unique design personality of Coolibar.

You can see these choices in our spring 2014 catalog. But they originate from the runways of fashion meccas worldwide, and from renowned authorities on color such as the Pantone Color Institute®. Pantone includes some of the same shades in its semi-annual report of the latest in fashion. This report is generated in part through a survey of New York Fashion Week designers.

The Important Role of Water

Womens Water Jacket – Deep Navy

Womens Water Jacket – Cobalt
Of all the new Coolibar spring colors and patterns, blue takes precedence. Blue is “in” at Coolibar because it suggests tranquility, the calm of a pool and the gentle ocean tides. Water is part of the joy of life in the sun, and it’s a big part of Coolibar; it’s also, naturally, most of what we are as human beings. You’ll see blue represented in spring fashion shows worldwide, and you’ll see shades from deep navy and cobalt blues to azure turquoise throughout the Coolibar spring line.

Mint and coral – also prominent spring color worldwide – are variously bold (e.g. Coral Heather) and complementary (e.g. Mint Deco) and extend the overall water-based Coolibar identity. In fact, the new spring prints – bold ikats, striking tribals and more simplified geos – are all reflections on the motion of water.

Appeal That Doesn’t Go Out of Style

Topping off what’s “in” for spring is a nice dash of black and white. By themselves, each color has a timeless quality; along with the blues, corals and mints and other Coolibar colors, they complete ensembles that are truly stunning.

Shop Coolibar online to find out more about our spring 2014 selection. New products are arriving daily!

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Valentine’s Day and What it Means for You

Coolibar Vday discount

Of all the legends surrounding the origins of Valentine’s Day, we at Coolibar like this one the best:

There lived a priest named Saint Valentine who so believed in love that he performed forbidden marriages for soldiers under Roman emperor Claudius II. The emperor was not happy about this, and threw the priest in jail. The saintly priest fell in love with his jailer’s daughter, Julia, who was blind; through a miracle, he restored her sight. Just before being executed he wrote Julia a letter and signed it, “from your Valentine.”

It’s also said that after Saint Valentine’s February 14 burial in Rome, Julia herself planted an almond tree with pinkish nectarine-colored blossoms near his resting place.

While it’s never been proven that this story was the inspiration behind the water jacket above, we are inspired to offer a 14 percent discount on our regularly priced merchandise. Just add regularly priced Coolibar sun protective clothing items to your bag online, and enter the code VDAY 14. This discount is in addition to our limited time free shipping, no minimum offer. It’s a Valentine’s Day deal we hope you’ll love. Expires midnight February 14, 2014.

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Meet our 2013 School Sun Hat Contest Winners

Each year, Coolibar provides hats to five lucky classrooms across the US as part of our initiative to promote sun safety in schools. Our winners this year include a school nurse, a preschool teacher and lots of lucky students.

Let’s meet our 2013 winners…

 

 

Dawn from Monte Vista Elementary – Las Cruces, NM

Monte Vista Elementary – Las Cruces, New Mexico

Being a school nurse, Dawn knows the importance of sun safety. Monte Vista is located in an extremely hot part of New Mexico and the playground has very little shade. After winning the contest, Dawn was able to distribute hats to the entire kindergarten class to kick off the new school year, and her sun safety program. She teaches classes on sun safety and reminds her students to wear sunscreen and a hat. Dawn loved the hats so much, she purchased more through the Coolibar School Sun Hat Program. Monte Vista students will definitely be protected this year. Way to go!

Kerri from Bramlett Elementary – Oxford, MS

Bramlett Elementary – Oxford, Mississippi

Kerri is a preschool teacher at Bramlett Elementary and knows it’s important for students to practice sun safety at recess, so she entered the contest. Her personal concern about sun exposure has escalated over the years, as she lost her friend to melanoma at the age of 30. In addition, her sister-in-law in Australia shared that kids there aren’t allowed to play outside at recess unless they wear a hat. Kerri hopes this becomes a trend in the US. Her class now wears their hat every day!

Dylan from Ogden Elementary – Wilmington, NC

Ogden Elementary – Wilmington, North Carolina

Dylan entered hoping he’d win for his 4th grade class. He grew up learning about sun safety; his mom is a naturopathic physician specializing in children’s health. Dylan lives in a beach community and is always outdoors, so sun protective clothing and hats are a natural (chemical free) way to protect him from the sun (and it keeps his mom happy)! Dylan handed the hats out during the school’s end-of-year class party.

 

Kaili from La Esparanza CDC – Albuquerque, NM

Kaili entered the contest because her school recently moved to a new location where there are not enough shade structures for the kids while playing at recess. Less than 1 percent of the class brings a sun hat to school, so winning Coolibar hats was very exciting! Kaili handed out the hats to her preschool class, and also provided them a lesson on sun protection.

Allison & Ethan from Fort Belvoir Elementary – Fort Belvoir, VA

The policy at Allison and Ethan’s school doesn’t allow teachers to apply sun block to students. But everyone can wear sun hats, so the brother and sister duo entered for their class. Many students at Fort Belvoir Elementary have families in the Air Force, so while sun protection is on their minds, family budgets are tight. The students are outside at recess every day, not protected from the sun. Allison & Ethan hope the hats will raise awareness among the kids and they will share with their parents. They handed the hats out at field day, when it gets really hot.

Congratulations to all of our 2013 School Sun Hat Contest winners!

Want to win hats for YOUR class? Our 2014 School Sun Hat Contest form is now available!  Enter here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3L56M7Q

 

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Coolibar and PRI Celebrate 10 Years

Coolibar and Partnership Resources, Inc. (PRI) recently celebrated 10 years of doing business together! PRI forms partnerships with Twin Cities area businesses, arranging jobs for its more than 230 clients with developmental disabilities. These workers help Coolibar by sorting, steam cleaning and repackaging returned items. Between four and 10 PRI clients work at Coolibar daily.PRI group

The 10-year partnership was marked with a luncheon provided by PRI and held at the Coolibar St. Louis Park, MN headquarters. The event was featured this week in the local Sun Sailor newspaper, which you can read here.

Coolibar is proud of our 10 years with Partnership Resources, Inc!

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Keeping My Family Sun Safe

Quiana and Nia Agbai

by Quiana Agbai, Blogger, Harlem Lovebirds

We’ve been hit with brutal snowstorms this winter where I live in the Northeastern U.S., and while we tend to bundle up to protect ourselves from the elements an important area is often forgotten in the winter, especially by African-Americans: the skin.Nia Agbai stays sun safe

In my previous Coolibar blog post, I shared how a diagnosis of discoid lupus years ago has increased my vigilance regarding sun safety. However, I have to admit while I do an excellent job slathering on sunscreen, wearing sun-safe clothing and putting on my sunglasses in the summer it’s much harder to follow through in the colder months. With a 3- year-old daughter and a baby on the way, it’s important to me to set a good example for my family in regard to sun safety, and I’ve found three key tips to help me do this:Quiana Agbai makeup tips

Find products that multi-task – from the latest BB cream, lip balm and hair crème, there are so many dual function products. And who really has time for layering on serums, sunscreen, then foundation? I’ve found it best to find products that have both the coverage and moisture my skin craves along with the recommended sunscreen dosage. As an African-American, I especially like the blended products because the “sheer” sunscreens alone tend to still show up on darker skin. However the coverage make-up with sunscreen added in blend much better.Nia Agbai wearing sunglasses

Keep your sun-safe accessories accessible – getting out the door on time is a challenge each morning, and rather than fumble around I find it’s helpful to keep everything in a logical place. Sounds so easy to do but you’d be surprised how many mornings I still run around to find that particular pair of sunglasses – including my daughter’s Christmas glasses she insists on wearing well into the New Year – or a missing glove. I keep my own items in the same to-go bag each morning and find that rather than cluttering our narrow entryway with extra baskets or containers, good old fashioned pockets are helpful. I can put my daughter’s items right in her pockets including her SPF lip balm which she applies right before we head out the door each morning, and she knows it’s part of her sun-safe routine!

Make it a game – this is especially true for my husband who, like most men, loves a bit of competition! Rather than inundate him with frightening facts, I make an aging game out of it comparing our laugh lines, forehead wrinkles and emerging eye creases while doing our morning routine. I jokingly do a tally of “who has more.” Of course, while we can’t literally count our lines, it has spurred him to make sunscreen a part of his regular routine. Despite an inherent SPF factor of 13.4 for African-American skin vs. 3.4 for white skin, the Skin Cancer Foundation says that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. with disproportionately high mortality rates in darker-skinned people.

With these three tips in mind, it’s a simple way to include my entire family in sticking to a sun-safe routine. I’ve had family members affected by cancer and while awareness has definitely increased, I’m enthusiastic about setting an example within my community – especially when we as African-Americans often think we’re immune from sun-safety recommendations due to our increased melanin. Join me and Coolibar as we continue on our sun-safe path!

Quiana Agbai blogs about young family life in metro-NYC, entrepreneurship and how to balance it all while having fun. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she is a 2002 graduate of Wellesley College. After eight years in advertising and media, she decided to pursue her passion of family life and owning her own business. She can be reached at www.harlemlovebirds.com.

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What History Tells Us About Skin Cancer and African Americans

February is African American History Month. Among much else, it can serve as a fitting reminder about a myth that has persisted for too long: African Americans (and those with darker skin tones) can’t get skin cancer. In fact, among the African American population, melanoma – the most serious kind of skin cancer – is much more deadly than among Caucasians.

You may have heard that naturally dark-skinned people have less chance of getting skin cancer, and that is true.  Darker skin naturally has more melanin, the dark pigment that protects against the sun’s UV rays. But the simple fact is, no one is immune to skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation shares these facts:

  • The overall 5-year melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent, versus 91 percent  for Caucasians.
  • 52 percent of non-Hispanic black patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced stage melanoma, versus 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.
  • Melanomas in African Americans (and other nationalities, including Asians, Filipinos and Indonesians) most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment. Up to 75 percent of tumors arise on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common skin cancer among African Americans. It tends to be more aggressive and carry a 20-40 percent risk of metastasis (spreading).
  • Skin cancer comprises one to two percent of all cancers in African Americans.  

Why is this? One reason is that the familiar story about how darker skin has a higher SPF than lighter skin (which it does) has for too long translated into “My dark skin prevents me from getting skin cancer” (which it doesn’t). It’s important to keep skin cancer top of mind; early diagnosis is often critical in successfully treating melanoma and other skin cancers.

Another big reason, according to Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, is within the medical community. Crutchfield is a board-certified dermatologist in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with specialized experience treating ethic skin. He says that the relatively higher incidences of skin cancers among Caucasians – and therefore the related training for physicians – makes it more difficult for professionals to diagnose skin cancer among African Americans and other ethnic groups. The lesions, moles and other symptoms that commonly help with a skin cancer diagnosis do not always appear as readily on someone with darker skin.

Skin cancer in African Americans is also more apt to develop in harder-to-find areas such as under fingernails or toenails.

So education is one of our most effective tools to combat skin cancer. As African American History Month continues, keep in mind how you can avoid skin cancer.

Be SunAWARE and be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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