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Coolibar Communicates the Importance of Sun Protection to Oncology Nurses

Limiting ultraviolet radiation exposure along with other changes in a person’s lifestyle such as quitting smoking, being physically active, and eating a better diet may reduce the risk of developing most types of cancer. But what about those who are in mid-battle of fighting off cancer, in any form? Sun protection is not only important for cancer prevention, but those in cancer treatment especially. The need to limit sun exposure is not always at top-of-mind when someone is going through cancer treatment, so both health care providers and patients need to be SunAWARE.

Today, approximately 12 million people alive in the United States have had some type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Some of these people are cancer-free; others still have the disease. Skin can become extremely sensitive during certain types of cancer treatment. Oftentimes drugs used in cancer treatment may make skin more sensitive to the sun.

While patients should always seek professional advice, using broad-spectrum sunscreen for sensitive skin every day can help ease skin irritation and prevent skin damage from the sun’s ultra violet radiation. UVA has the ability to travel through most home and car windows unless they’ve been specifically treated to block UVA. When spending time outdoors, patients should wear a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Sun protective clothing that provides cooling sun relief is widely available today and can be found through a simple internet search. To stay comfortable outdoors, look for technical fabrics that offer a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating (UPF 50+ is the highest rating available), wick moisture and feel soft to the touch.

In order to help spread the message about the importance of sun protection Coolibar will be visiting the Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress in New Orleans, LA May 3 – May 6, 2012. Coolibar hopes to help oncology nurses recognize the need to communicate the importance of sun protection to patients to help ease skin conditions, provide comfort, and prevent skin cancer occurrences.

Oncology Nurses: Stop by booth number 918 to see Coolibar.

Annual ONS Congress

Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.

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Educate Others Parenting SunAWARE

Tanning Industry Investigation Confirms Need for Education

“Tanning is beneficial to your health,” claims tanning salon owners and employees when the House Committee on Energy and Commerce undercover investigators called 300 tanning salons nationwide.  This false claim may not fool many sun protection advocates, but the rest of the U.S. population could be easily led to believe that tanning is good for you. In actuality, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Tanning, whether outdoors or in a tanning bed, can have harmful effects on your health. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation states on their website that indoor ultraviolet tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.  Most people are not properly informed about the risks of using tanning beds and are putting their lives at risk without even knowing it.

During The Committee’s study, they had investigators pose as fair skinned teenage girls (over the phone) looking for information on tanning bed safety and policies. After contacting 300 salons, at least three in every state, they released these unsettling results:

1) Nearly all salons (90%) denied the known risks of indoor tanning.

2) Four out of five salons falsely claimed that indoor tanning is beneficial to a young person’s health.

3) Salons used many approaches to minimize the health risks of indoor tanning including saying, “it’s got to be safe, or else [the government] wouldn’t let us do it.”

4) Three quarters of tanning salons failed to follow FDA recommendations on tanning frequency.

The Skin Cancer Foundation, in an effort to help educate teenagers and save lives, is urging people to email letters of support urging the FDA to regulate tanning beds and ban those less than 18 year of age from using them. The SCF will then compile all emails and send them to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. You can email your letters to advocacy@skincancer.org.

The Skin Cancer Foundation’s report on Congressional Report Exposes Tanning Industry’s Misleading Messaging to Teens.

http://www.skincancer.org/news/tanning/tanningreport

Watch Chelsea’s Experience with Skin Cancer to see how misleading claims by tanning salons effect the people around us.

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Avoid UV & Seek Shade SunAWARE

Australia to Ban Tanning Beds for All? Is the U.S. Next?

Australia has the highest rate of melanoma in the world. For decades they have been taking measures to reduce the number of skin cancers by encouraging the use of sun protection through public health campaigns. Now, Australia is taking their sun safety efforts to the next level. In February, New South Whales (NSW), the most heavily populated state is Australia, declared they will prohibit the use of commercial tanning beds, regardless of age, by 2015.

This solarium ban (Australian jargon for tanning bed) will not take effect for approximately three years. Greens NSW Member of Parliament John Kaye claims this is too long to wait. He says during the time leading up to the ban, up to 43 will die from cancer related illnesses that likely could have been prevented if an immediate ban was imposed. According to NSW government, a three year wait is necessary in order to give solarium businesses time to diversify.

New South Wales, Australia

On a global scale, stricter tanning bed regulations and complete bans have been rising over the last few years. In 2009, Brazil was the first country in the world to ban tanning beds altogether after the World Health Organization declared ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds to be a class 1 carcinogen. Asbestos and cigarettes are in the same category. In 2011, California announced a ban of tanning beds use for those under 18 years of age. This law is similar to France, England and Wales, all countries taking action on the topic of concern.

NSW seems to be helping push the anti-tanning movement forward. After their announcement, other Australian states have also begun talking about banning solariums in addition to New Zealand, which also has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. Parts of Canada and U.S. states are also currently considering stricter regulations for tanning beds.

What are your thoughts about tanning bed bans?

References:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/wellbeing/6443322/Push-to-copy-Aussies-and-ban-tanning-beds

http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sun-sets-on-banned-solariums/

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/02/nsw-to-ban-solariums-equivalent-to-asbestos/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-04/nsw-bans-solariums/3811454

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/blogs/beauty-beat/models-banned-from-tanning-20120301-1u4ff.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/australia-ban-tanning-beds-continent-world-highest-rate-deadly-skin-cancer-article-1.1029168

http://preventdisease.com/news/articles/few_ban_tanning_beds.shtml

http://www.cancerinstitute.org.au/news/i/government-announces-ban-on-tanning-units-in-nsw

http://www.darksideoftanning.com.au/myths/myths_one.aspx

http://johnkaye.org.au/sunbed-ban-delay-will-cost-up-to-43-lives

http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/Banning-Teenagers-from-Tanning-Beds.html

Photo credits:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whatshername/2369269277/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tigris-Australia_location_New_South_Wales.svg

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SunAWARE

While Melanoma Treatments Advance, Prevention Remains Key

Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, isn’t going away. In fact, The National Cancer Institute previously estimated in 2011 that 70,230 people would be diagnosed with melanoma and 8,790 would die of melanoma of the skin. While two major melanoma treatment advancements have made headlines over the past year, it’s even more important to remember that the best way to fight this disease is prevention.

When caught early, melanoma can usually be cured with surgery alone, but once it metastasizes, treatment options become limited. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for stage IV melanoma is about 15% to 20%. Yervoy™ (Ipilimumab) and Zelboraf™ (Vemurafenib) are two new late stage melanoma fighting drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011. Yervoy is the first melanoma drug to receive FDA approval in 13 years. It’s also the first proven treatment to extend overall survival for late stage melanoma patients. “Yervoy may offer many patients a 2-year survival advantage, with a smaller percentage of patients being virtually cured,” claims the Skin Cancer Foundation’s (SCF) report the new drug.

B-RAF
Crystallographic structure of B-Raf (rainbow colored, N-terminus = blue, C-terminus = red) complexed with vemurafenib (spheres, carbon = white, oxygen = red, nitrogen = blue, chlorine = green, fluorine = cyan, sulfur = yellow). Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:3OG7.png

According to the SCF, Zelboraf, approved later in the year by the FDA, is the first targeted genetic therapy of its kind to treat advanced metastatic melanoma patients whose tumors have a specific mutation in the BRAF gene that’s present in 40-60 percent of melanomas. While both drugs represent a step towards a cure for melanoma, in most cases, these treatments only extend the life of advanced stage melanoma patients, and a cure for melanoma has yet to be discovered.

Even though melanoma, in particular late stage, is difficult to treat once it occurs, the good news is that skin cancer, including melanoma is preventable in many cases. Over exposure to UVA and UVB rays produced by the sun or artificial ultraviolet light (i.e. tanning beds) can form genetic mutations in the skin, which leaves those who have burned or tanned susceptible to all forms of skin cancer later in life. UV radiation is considered the main cause of nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The SCF says NMSCs strike more than 250,000 Americans each year. Experts also believe UV radiation may also cause melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

By protecting yourself from UV rays (both artificial UV from tanning beds and naturally occurring UV from the sun) and performing routine skin checks, you’ll not only help reduce the incidence of skin cancers, but improve your overall skin appearance and health. Skin sun damage is cumulative, so there is still time to grab a bottle of SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen, a wide brim hat, UV sunglasses and look into adding sun protective clothing to your wardrobe.

Photo credit: anolobb

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Avoid UV & Seek Shade Success Stories Wellness Warriors

Doc Learns the Hard Way to Avoid Tanning

Some stories are so powerful they need to be retold.  This blog was written by Dr. Jessica Sparks Lilley, a pediatrician who learned the hard way that the risks of getting melanoma from using a tanning bed are real! Please do not use tanning beds.  Please do not allow your children to use tanning beds.  Help pass legislation to ban the use of tanning beds by minors.

“As a pediatrician, I have dedicated much of my life to improving the health of children—thirteen years of formal training after high school, to be exact.  I’ve worked thirty hour shifts every other day, delayed my dream of having children of my own, and moved across the country for the best learning opportunities.  Amid this grueling schedule, during my second year of residency I noticed in a bleary-eyed post-call shower that a mole on my chest had changed a little.  I recounted the “ABCDs” of skin cancer—asymmetry, borders, color, diameter—and my mole was only a little larger than a pencil eraser with more heterogeneity than I remembered (meaning that it was a mix of brown and black rather than just all brown).  When I finally made an appointment with my internist (again, post-call—can’t be choosy when you work eighty hours a week), he brushed my concerns aside and refused to even look at it, instead writing out a referral to dermatology.  Six months later, the opportunity to see a dermatologist finally arose, and I found myself standing in the specialist’s office that February morning to find that the referral had never made it.  My medical training had kicked in and caused a bad feeling in my gut about the mole, so I called my internist’s office from the waiting room and even cried on the phone to get them to help me.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the referral was processed and the physician’s assistant worked me into her schedule—the suspicious mole was off to pathology within fifteen minutes, and I received the call two days later that I was right to be worried—that mole represented an early-stage melanoma.

I was in my parents’ living room when I got the call.  I had traveled from Philadelphia to Mississippi for vacation.  I will never forget the way my mother cried when she overheard me asking questions about whether sentinel node mapping would need to be part of the diagnostic work-up.  I only required a wider excision, which was done that very week and (praise God!) showed no signs of metastasis.  As I sat in doctors’ waiting rooms and even as I was walking back to the operating room, I mulled over the same regrets—why did I ever step foot into a tanning salon?

The first time I went to a tanning bed, I was fifteen years old and trying to get a little “color” to look good in a dress I found to wear in a beauty pageant.  I bought eight visits, heard nothing of the risks (which were largely unknown at the time), never burned, and actually thought it was fun to have the fifteen minutes of quiet rest.  I had to beg my parents to let me go, and the owner of the tanning salon was quick to tell my mother that indoor tanning was much safer than tanning outside.  The strongest argument against the behavior in high school I heard was a bad urban legend about a girl who “fried her ovaries” by tanning.  You’d think that I would have been hesitant to step inside a device that looked like a coffin, had a dial like an oven, and was cleaned with only a dilute cleaning solution by other tanners.  Alas, I went about ten times a year after that for various reasons—prom, pageants, and even my wedding—despite being able to draw a picture of the pyrimadine dimers I was forming in my DNA as a result of UV radiation!  Strangely, I wore sunscreen and rarely went outside, especially as my training intensified.  The first time I thought seriously about never going back was after my first pathology lecture dealing with melanoma and the strong emphasis on UV radiation as a cause of skin cancer; I considered it again when a friend was caring for a patient with metastatic melanoma during our third year of medical school and lovingly warned me that I was putting my health in danger; but because I started tanning at a young age, the behavior seemed safe to me.  I rationalized tanning in every way imaginable.  After I graduated medical school, I vowed to never return lest I set a bad example as a physician.  My last tanning visit was April 24, 2007, about a week before my wedding…and two years before the cancer diagnosis that changed my life.

I am continuing to devote my life to the health of children now as an advocate to ban tanning in minors, just as we regulate other known carcinogens like tobacco.  We know that younger DNA is more vulnerable to dangerous mutations and that teens don’t yet have the cognitive skills to judge long-term ramifications of their actions.  We also understand now that any indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75%!  I am appalled that I have friends who continue to go, reasoning that tanning “isn’t that bad” and is their “only vice” and “something they do for themselves.”  I’m infuriated that some idiot doctors perpetuate the myth that sun exposure is healthy and the lie that tanning beds are a good source of vitamin D.  That’s absolute hogwash.  I’m a fellow in pediatric endocrinology and know that much better sources of vitamin D are available without the side effect of deadly cancer!

I shudder to think of what would have happened to me if I hadn’t detected my melanoma early.  Late-stage melanoma is almost always fatal.  Treatments like interferon have horrible side effects and don’t save everyone.  I no longer feel safe in my own skin and feel that the quality of my life has been impacted by the fear that my cancer will recur.  The fact that melanoma is the most common form of cancer death in my demographic (25-29 year old women) is astounding, and it is unfortunately on the rise in association with more young women with a history of indoor tanning.  It’s humiliating to recount my story—I should have known better—but I hope to teach everyone who will listen three important take-home points:

1. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever indoor (or outdoor) tan!  A tan is evidence of skin damage and potential DNA mutation that can lead to cancer.  There is no such thing as a safe tan!

2. If you are worried about something with your health, there may be a reason.  Talk to your physician, and if he or she doesn’t listen, find someone who will.

3. Finally, take time to take care of your health.  We have all made an idol/status symbol out of “busyness” to the detriment of our well-being.  If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

As part of my crusade, at least one later stage melanoma has been diagnosed and countless friends and acquaintances have stopped tanning.  I will keep telling my story to anyone who will listen to defeat this often preventable cancer.”

Jessica Sparks Lilley, MD

A post shared by our friends at SunAWARE.

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Educate Others SunAWARE

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues of the skin, as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). So when you hear about the most common types of skin cancer which include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, what does it really mean? What are the differences between these types of skin cancers?

Skin cancers occur if there’s uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis (outer layer of skin). The type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma depends on the types of cells the cancer forms in.

Basal Cell Carcinoma:
If skin cancer begins in the basal cells, which produce skin cells that continuously push older cells toward the surface, it’s known as basal cell carcinoma. Basal cells are found in the lower part of the epidermis. This is the most common form of skin cancer accounting for an estimated 1 million of the over 1.3 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year according to the CDC. This type of skin cancer is usually easy to treat.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma:
Cancer that forms in the squamous cells, the flat cells that form the surface of the skin, is called squamous cell carcinoma. According to the CDC, squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 16 percent of diagnosed skin cancer cases each year. While this type of skin cancer can be treated in most cases, if untreated it can be fatal.

Melanoma:
Skin cancer that forms in pigment cells (melanocytes) is melanoma. Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, but it’s also the deadliest because it tends to metastasize or spread throughout the body when not detected early.  

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are also referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancers to differentiate them from melanoma. Anyone can get basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, regardless of skin color. Factors that may increase your risk are: age, cumulative ultraviolet radiation exposure, where you live and complexion.

When looking at melanoma specifically, the exact cause has yet to be determined; however, researchers argue that certain risk factors increase a person’s chance of developing melanoma including: abnormal moles, having more than 50 normal moles, fair skin, personal history of skin cancer, family history of melanoma, weakened immune system, severe sunburns and ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure.

Take a personal quiz to see what your risk of developing skin cancer is and what you can do to help prevent it at the National Cancer Institute’s website: http://understandingrisk.cancer.gov/a_skin/02.cfm

Watch a video on the differnt types of skin cancer and how to help prevent them: http://video.about.com/dermatology/Skin-Cancer.htm

References:
Sun Protection for Life by Mary Mills Barrow and John F. Barrow (2005)
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/medical/IM02400
http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?cdrid=445084
http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/index.htm
http://www.healthonlinezine.info/what-is-skin-cancer-what-causes-skin-cancer.html

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Wellness Warriors

“More Than Skin Deep” – This Film Can Save Lives

If you had the resources to tell hundreds of thousands of people around the world about skin cancer and prevention would you? Director and Cinematographer Stan Kozma has worked in the film business his entire adult life. He also knows all too well how skin cancer can affect people’s lives, so he decided to take action. All is revealed about skin cancer and melanoma in his film “More Than Skin Deep: Skin Cancer in America”. The hour long film examines the cultural, historical and social facets of the disease, including how the tanning craze was accidentally popularized by Coco Chanel, as well as its medical, scientific and treatment aspects.  Since 2009, the film has been broadcast over 500 times on 200 stations to approximately 500,000 viewers in addition to audiences attending film festivals across the U.S. and currently in Norway. This landmark film has so many elements that we decided to speak with Stan and get the reasoning behind his creation of the film.

Here’s a brief clip from the film “More Than Skin Deep: Skin Cancer in America.” 

                          

Why did you decide to create a film about skin cancer?
As the saying goes, “You choose some projects. Some projects choose you.” My fiancé, Kristi, a professional make-up artist was diagnosed with melanoma. After four tough years of operations and protocols, she was taken by the disease at age 35. During a brief period of remission, she and I vowed that upon her return to full health, we would do what we could to spread awareness about skin cancer. Prior to “Skin Deep”, I had produced a successful PSA campaign about sun awareness directed at kids, teens and parents. The documentary was planned as the next step.

Stan Kozma Shooting "More Than Skin Deep"

Who do you think your audience is for this film?
The audience is anyone who is exposed to the sun – which is all of us. The film is directed at mid-teen to adult. Classroom versions have been created for middle school, high school and nursing academies.

What is your hope for every person who watches “More Than Skin Deep”?
One hope is that people who watch “Skin Deep” will want a friend or family member to watch it as well. We’ve received many requests to send copies of the film to a granddaughter or younger family member who might not realize the possible consequences of their sun habits.

What was the number one point you wanted to get across?
If there is one overarching message it is that skin cancer is REAL cancer. While the film addresses basal and squamous cancers, the primary focus is on melanoma. There are two main points we emphasized. One is that melanoma is an unpredictable and very treacherous cancer that although when caught early has a 99% cure rate, once it spreads it is very difficult to control. The second is that sun exposure or early sunburns can have long term serious consequences. Your body doesn’t really ‘get over’ a sunburn. It’s not like getting over a cold. Your skin stores that information for your entire life – and we get 80% of our lifetime sun exposure before we are 18.

How did you choose people to interview?
During Kristi’s treatments we traveled from Florida to California, New York and Bethesda for consultation and treatment. We met many brilliant and caring physicians and nurses during that time. I remained in contact with most of them after her passing. When it came time to make the documentary, not one turned down the opportunity to be on camera. In fact, several made important introductions that resulted in interviews that otherwise would not have been possible.

Sun protective clothing is now being recommended as the first line of defense by many leading organizations. The movie doesn’t really address the use of sun clothing as a protection method, was this intentional?
Several of our interviewees did mention sun protective clothing. Our limiting issue was time. The film had to be a specific length to adhere to broadcast standards. We had more footage than time. Since “Skin Deep’s” initial release in 2009, there have been significant developments in melanoma treatment and in skin cancer news. Currently we are looking to revise the film for a new broadcast version and a longer non broadcast version without time constraints. The importance and advantages of sun protective clothing will certainly be included in the update.

In your eyes, has the film been a success?
The film has been successful. But its full potential is far from being reached. “More Than Skin Deep” is the most engaging, emotional and entertaining film to examine skin cancer produced to date. It can be updated and advanced as new information and treatments become available. Custom versions of the film can be created for certain geographical regions and for ages and occupations.

Do you have any future plans as a skin cancer crusader?
In addition to continuing the outreach of “Skin Deep”, I am developing a feature film which Kristi and I started writing together and which chronicles the odyssey of her melanoma journey. It is not a standard approach to the subject and the intent is to create a narrative film that will do for skin cancer awareness what the film ‘Philadelphia’ did for HIV/AIDS understanding.

To view clips or purchase the DVD, visit www.morethanskindeep.org.

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Success Stories Wellness Warriors

Thankful for the Chance to Spread an Important Message

Duane Braswell is a recent skin cancer survivor whom is thankful for many things this holiday season. After being diagnosed with both basal cell carcinoma and melanoma in August 2011 and having his cancer cells successfully excised, he came to the conclusion that there is not enough awareness around the dangers of skin cancer. With the support of his family, friends and outside donors, Duane has arranged to complete a 2,500 mile bike circuit starting in Phoenix, AZ and ending in Washington, DC to raise awareness and money for skin cancer research.

Duane’s story:

I was diagnosed in August 2011 with several basal cell carcinoma cancers and melanoma. What a shock to hear the word “cancer” and your name in the same sentence! This is something everyone knows can happen, but we never expect it will happen to us.

Prior to the cancer I only wore a hat and sunscreen if I remembered or thought I would be outside for an extended period of time. When we were  kids, we just dealt with sunburns and didn’t think twice about it. After all of the cancerous cells were cut out in mid-October, I now wear my hat almost everywhere I go – plus it looks good anyway!

The biggest hit was realizing that even though I made my family a priority over my career, I still did not realize how fragile life is and how precious my time with my family is. The hardest thing was looking at my kids and thinking I might not be there for their children or even my youngest child’s graduation. I had never considered these things before my diagnosis, when I was ignoring my mole and ‘spots.’

Now, I am looking forward to spending five weeks with my son going cross country and showing him how great people are to visit and talk with. We leave May 13, 2012 from Phoenix and will arrive in Washington DC at the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) center by the end of June. We will be traveling 2,500 miles; enjoying our time together and sharing with others the importance of covering up in the sun and wearing a hat. We hope to raise $10,000 for the MRF through exposure on TV, radio as well as the internet. Both my son and I want to hear someone went and got checked for skin cancer because we talked to them.

After the ‘cancer’ scare, my oldest daughter had two moles removed when visiting the dermatologist. She told me it would be foolish to miss out on life because of something so small. Hers moles were VERY early and required no stitches. Mine were nearly too late and required over 60 stitches that we could count. It is so easy to prevent skin cancer, and so costly if we do not.

– Duane Braswell

P.S. My doctor recommended your products to me and I really love them.

Check back in May for a trip update!

Duane posing in his Coolibar gear with the bike that will be accompanying him on a 2,500 mile ride to raise funds for melanoma research
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SunAWARE

Does the Ozone Hole Affect Your Health?

In the upper atmosphere, about 6 to 30 miles above Earth, naturally occurring ozone protects life from the sun’s ultraviolet B radiation (UVB). This is known as the stratospheric ozone. Over decades, it has been damaged by cumulative pollutants including motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, chemical solvents as well as natural sources. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), nontoxic, nonflammable chemicals containing atoms of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, which were once used as refrigerants and in spray cans, have been pinned as the main culprit. Over the past 20 years, a significantly depleted layer of ozone known as the ozone hole has formed over the Antarctic. This ozone loss imposes a serious health threat for humans, in particular our skin and eyes.

“The more damage there is to the ozone layer, the more UVB rays that reach our bodies,” claims Dr. Herman and Dr. Newman, atmospheric physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Both UVB rays and UVA rays cause DNA damage in the skin that can lead to skin cancer, premature skin aging, cataracts and other eye conditions. Exposure over time can also weaken the immune system. The good news is that world political and environmental leaders are working together to address this issue.

Since 1987, over 150 nations have gradually signed the Montreal Protocol, which now prohibits the production of ozone-depleting CFCs. After over two decades of international collaborations to restore Earth’s sun protective layer, studies are showing a gradual decrease in harmful CFC levels in the atmosphere. Presently, the ozone hole is no longer expanding and evidence suggests it’s on the mend.  According to Dr. Herman and Dr. Newman, scientists currently estimate that stratospheric ozone levels in the northern mid-latitudes will recover by 2050 and polar levels by 2065, which could significantly reduce the incidence of ultraviolet radiation exposure health related issues for future generations.

It will take time for the stratospheric ozone to recover. Luckily, we  have options to protect our skin, eyes and health by taking a holistic approach to sun protection starting today. SunAWARE’s advice: First, avoid unprotected UV exposure and seek shade when possible. Keep in mind that UV doesn’t flow in one direction. It is able to bounce off surfaces, molecules and particles, so even when you’re under an umbrella, UV can still reach you.  Second, wear sun protective clothing, wide-brim sun hats and UV sunglasses. These items are your best defense to keep UV from penetrating your skin and eyes. Next, apply SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen everywhere clothing doesn’t cover. This practice should be included into your daily regimen in order to decrease the repercussions of cumulative UV skin damage. Finally, routinely check your skin for suspicious changes and see a dermatologist if you notice anything. Pass on this wisdom and educate others about the need for sun protection.

Resources:

http://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/news/2011/november-2011/01/uv-index-replaced-by-alert.aspx

http://www.epa.gov/glo/

http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/10/21/scientist-speaks-out-after-finding-record-ozone-hole-over-canadian-arctic/

http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/aqtrnd95/stratoz.html

http://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov/facts/hole.html

http://www.skincancer.org/ozone-and-uv-where-are-we-now.html

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Events

Jacksonville Jaguars Support Melanoma Prevention

October 9, 2011 marks the first NFL game dedicated to Melanoma Prevention. The Jacksonville Jaguars have teamed up with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) to spread the word on skin cancer prevention and detection.

The MRF is the largest independent, national organization devoted to melanoma whose mission is to Research, Educate and Advocate. They are helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure.

You can support the MRF by attending the game on October 9th where the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. A portion from each ticket sale will go directly to the Melanoma Research Foundation. Discount tickets can be purchased through the MRF website for $40, $45 or $50 and include a free souvenir t-shirt. 

If you go, bring your enthusiasm, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, sun protective clothing and sunglasses. EverBank Field is an outdoor stadium and UV rays are present, even on a cloudy day.

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