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Are skin cancer apps harmful?

Earlier this month we discussed the growing role technology plays in the fight against skin cancer. In fact, we’ve created a pin board, highlighting some of our favorite apps.

Now, in light of a recent study published by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, there is a growing concern for the accuracy of the apps that are meant to detect skin cancer. Four smartphone apps were evaluated on their ability to determine whether moles have morphed into cancerous melanomas. The results ranged from 98.1% accuracy to only 6.8%. If consumers are relying on their smart phone alone to diagnose their health issues, this inaccuracy poses a big problem.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Health-app makers include disclaimers warning patients that they don’t mean to diagnose anything. ‘We’re not saying this replaces a practitioner,’ said Avi Lasarow, co-founder of the Mole Detective app, which uses algorithms to gauge mole risk but plans to add a physician-referral feature. ‘We’re saying, this is a way you can look to determine whether you might have a problem,’ he said.”

Most consumer health apps haven’t yet been required to demonstrate their safety and efficacy through the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA said in a statement that the UPMC study results “reinforce the importance of consumers talking with a health care professional before making any medical decisions” because of the seriousness of melanoma, and that addressing mobile apps is a top priority at the agency.

What do you think, are skin cancer detecting apps helpful or harmful?

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Avoid UV & Seek Shade What's Hot

Are tanning references in TV a problem?

Even if you didn’t watch Jersey Shore, you have likely seen images of the tanning obsessed cast in the tabloids. The recently canceled show with the motto “gym, tan, laundry,” and MTV are now under fire from the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) for promoting tanning to teens and young adults.

The SCF audited season three of Jersey Shore and found 186 references to tanning in just 17 episodes, and 48 images of tanning throughout the series’ third season. They believe the focus on tanning in the series implies that tanning is necessary for social acceptance.

This September, the SCF asked MTV to include warnings with each episode alerting viewers to the danger of tanning. MTV refused, which provoked the SCF to file a complaint with the FTC under the Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices section of the FTC Act.

The SCF is worried that pro-tanning messages will continue in spin-offs such as Snooki & JWoww, a reality television series on MTV starring Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (pictured above) and Jennifer “JWoww” Farley from Jersey Shore.

According to the SCF, just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another two percent.

What are your thoughts? Do you think shows such as Jersey Shore push real teens to tan? Should something be done?

Resources:
http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts
http://www.indystar.com/usatoday/article/1842659
http://www.examiner.com/article/skin-cancer-foundation-sues-mtv-for-promoting-tanning-on-jersey-shore

Photo resource: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Snooki_in_Chicago_adj.jpg

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Educate Others SunAWARE What's Hot

Policymakers Regulate Indoor Tanning for Minors

If you’re under 18 years old and live in the state of California or Vermont, say goodbye to tanning bed use once and for all. California stepped up and became the first state in the nation to ban the use of indoor tanning beds for all minors under 18. The CA ban went into effect on January 1, 2012, followed by Vermont on July 1, 2012 – both monumental dates in the anti-tanning movement.

“According to (California) State Senator Ted Lieu, who introduced and sponsored the legislation on its long journey through the state assembly, the bill’s successful passage provides hope that similar action can be achieved in other states across the United States. ‘I strongly believe that this law is a good model for other states and countries to follow,’ says Mr. Lieu. ‘Every year the evidence is more overwhelming that tanning greatly increases one’s likelihood of skin cancer, which is why we need to keep pushing the envelope to bring about more legislation to restrict indoor tanning,’ Mr. Lieu notes.”

The National Council of State Governments has assembled an easy to read graph and table for state indoor tanning laws and regulations for minors for a side by side comparison. Visit their website to learn more about the anti-tanning legislation in your state.

2012 State Indoor Tanning Laws for Minors 2012 State Indoor Tanning Laws for Minors

Make your voice heard.

If you believe indoor tanning devices should receive the maximum amount of regulation, which more closely matches the health risks of these harmful devices, write a letter of support to your state elected representatives urging the FDA to regulate tanning beds and ban those under 18 from using them.  You can also email The Skin Cancer Foundation at advocacy@skincancer.org. The Foundation will compile all emails of support and send them to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s office.

Resources:

National Conference of State Legislatures

Practical Dermatology

The Skin Cancer Foundation

The Coolibar Blog

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SunAWARE

3 Personal New Year’s Resolutions to Stay Skin Cancer Free in 2013

When thinking about your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions, consider making a conscious effort to prevent skin cancer in 2013. Yes, skin cancer is preventable in many cases. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually (Skin Cancer Foundation).

Prevention starts with education, and knowing exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVA – aging, and UVB – burning rays) from the sun and tanning beds contributes to your risk of developing skin cancer. The good news is an individual can take simple steps to ensure a lifetime of healthy skin and still enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer.

3 Simple New Years Resolutions for Healthy Skin in 2013:

1. Use Sun Protection (Photo: Raw Elements SPF 30 Sunscreen)

1. Incorporate sun protection into your daily routine.

Use sun protection every day of the year. Even if you are indoors, windows allow UVA rays to penetrate the glass (glass blocks UVB rays). Start by incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on your face and all exposed skin. If you wear makeup, apply a face sunscreen underneath your foundation even if your foundation has SPF, as most people don’t use a thick enough application to provide adequate sun protection. (Click here for dermatologist recommended face sunscreens.) If you’ll be outdoors for an extended period of time, wear a wide brim hat, UV400 sunglasses and UPF 50+ sun protective clothing. If you cannot wear sun protective clothing, apply sunscreen underneath your T-shirt since most regular clothing offers less than SPF 30 protection. Not only will this keep your skin healthy, but as added incentive, you’ll look younger longer since UV rays significantly contribute to visible signs of aging.

2. Perform a self skin exam

2. Perform a self-skin exam every month and track your mole changes.

You know your body best, so you’ll likely be the first to notice changes in the skin. Also, when caught early, skin cancer is easily treatable in most cases. This is why performing a self-skin exam is important. Print this body map from the Skin Cancer Foundation and then look for the following:

1. A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored.

2. A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that: changes color, increases in size or thickness, changes in texture, is irregular in outline, is bigger than 6mm or 1/4”, the size of a pencil eraser, appears after age 21.

3. A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed.

4. An open sore that does not heal within three weeks.

If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately.

If you’re more of an smart phone app aficionado, technology is making performing a self-skin exam an exceedingly simple task. Check out smart phone apps on the Coolibar Pinterest page.

3. Get a full-body skin cancer screening (Photo: Charles Crutchfield III, M.D., M.B.B., F.A.A.D.)

3. Make time for a full-body skin cancer screening with a board-certified dermatologist once per year.

While you should check your skin every month, a board-certified dermatologist that works with skin every day may notice changes that you didn’t. Schedule an annual skin cancer screening to ensure your skin is healthy as can be!

The American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday (5/6/2013). Dermatology offices often provide free skin cancer screenings. Find a free skin cancer screening on the AAD website or by calling your local dermatology office. Mark your calendars now!

Have a great 2013 and keep your skin healthy!

– Coolibar, Sun Protection You Wear

DisclaimerThe 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.

What are your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions? Join the conversation on the Coolibar Pinterest page!

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Wellness Warriors

Book: Help Me Live… As I Die, Cancer vs. the Power of Love

Joe Peterson, author of “Help Me Live… As I Die / Cancer vs. the Power of Love” shares his story about the creation of a book that demonstrates the true power of love versus melanoma. Kelly, Joe’s partner, passed away from cancer, but his story lives on through Joe.

From Joe:

I am the youngest of twelve and have always been creatively ambitious. Throughout the course of my life I dealt with suicidal thoughts, came to terms with my sexuality, built self-esteem through body and mind improvement, and always believed in love. Exercise, nutrition and creativity have been passions of mine for many years, and when Kelly was diagnosed they were very much a part of our daily life.

Only after writing daily updates on CaringBridge and receiving positive feedback from the readers (while building a united support system) did I consider sharing our journey via a book. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I never suspected it would be inspired by a tragic circumstance. I contacted a publishing company months before Kelly passed away, and I believed it would be his and my success story against cancer… specifically, melanoma.

In October of 2011, I realized our physical time together was coming to an end and the story I had wanted to write was going to have an unthinkable ending. Kelly and I moved forth with the same amount of positivity and hope, despite the reality we faced.

Our journey, captured in “Help Me Live… As I Die / Cancer vs. the Power of Love” was completed and released almost one year after Kelly moved on. Reliving, over and over, the trials and tribulations we encountered during Kelly’s final nine months became a source of therapy I had not predicted.

Through my own personal growth, from rereading our united travels in 2011, and through the positive encouragement from others, I felt and still believe Kelly’s positivity will still impact others and potentially teach a better way to live, by living positively. Kelly and I also became aware that the relationship we had was very much respected by our straight loved ones, and our CB entries opened their eyes to the prejudices and safety fears we continually lived with. Our journey was as much about sharing as it was about learning.

–Joe

Joe Peterson, Author of “Help Me Live As I Die…Cancer vs. the Power of Love”

About the book:

This is not a story about death. It is a story about one couple’s journey of acceptance, love, and internal awakenings. Kelly and Joe met by chance, but were bound by fate. One morning in the summer of 2010, Kelly Boedigheimer, a thirty-nine year old man in good health, discovered what he thought was yet another ingrown hair on his chin. That was the first step on the life-changing journey he would share with Joe Peterson, his life partner since 1998.

Months later – following three surgical procedures, where each was more aggressive than the last – Kelly and Joe faced the inconceivable: Kelly was diagnosed with melanoma. In early 2011, Kelly met with a team of specialists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Another surgery, this one more wide-ranging than the others, removed a section of skin from his chin and a portion of his cheek. A graft from his arm provided new skin for those areas. Highly concerned about this aggressive melanoma, doctor’s proceeded quickly to save and protect Kelly.

Here, Joe lovingly and painfully recreates Kelly’s final nine months through journal entries, e-mails, blog posts, texts, and more. Their relationship was tested as too many are; in this visit back to those days, Joe unfolds an inspiring telling of the power of love, optimism, and hope. This is not a story about death. This is a story about love.

Enter to win a free book signed by the author. Share this story with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and tag @Coolibar or comment below. (We will only use your email to contact you for purposes of this contest. One entry per person please. We’ll choose a winner via random drawing on December 6, 2012 at noon CST.)

Purchase “Help Me Live… As I Die / Cancer vs. the Power of Love” at HelpmeliveasIdie.com, www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com.

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Events SunAWARE

The Stars Come Out to Support Melanoma Research Foundation

Celebrity Kevin Nealon, star of Showtime’s hit series Weeds and long time Saturday Night Live actor hosted the first annual Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) Celebrity Golf Classic on Monday, November 12 at Lakeside Golf Club in Los Angeles. The golf tournament helped raise funds for the MRF, helping further cancer research with the goal of one day finding a cure.

Kevin became involved with the MRF after his old college friend pasted away from skin cancer. Kevin says, “I never realized that skin cancer can be deadly. Since then, I’ve learned that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills someone in this country every hour of every day. Alarmingly, it is not only the fastest growing cancer in young adults but the fastest growing cancer in the world.” Now, he’s working to spread the word about melanoma and skin cancer prevention.

Learn more at the Melanoma Research Foundation’s website. Also, check out photos from the event below.

Melanoma Research Foundation is the largest and oldest non-profit focusing specifically on melanoma. We are in our 14th year of funding cutting-edge medical research, and are the leading voice in providing support and education for patients. MRF is also a major source of awareness messages about melanoma, and is in its third year of a partnership with Cosmopolitan Magazine around their Practice Safe Sun program. Other strategic partners around raising awareness include a multi-national pharmaceutical company, a major motion picture studio and a team from the NFL.

We at Coolibar salute you Kevin Nealon and your fight for skin cancer prevention! P.S. You looked great in your Coolibar polo!
 

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Expert Rx

What are the best sun protective strategies for men?

Dr. Ryan Goerig, a board-certified dermatologist, specializes in aesthetic dermatology at Vorteil Dermatology in Dana Point, CA, the first aesthetic dermatology center to focus on men.  Men’s skin is different than women’s skin.  Its structure and function is fundamentally unique and requires specialized knowledge and different treatment approaches.  This is why Dr. Goerig pays special attention to men’s dermatologic needs, including aesthetic dermatology and the treatment of male pattern baldness, acne scars and rosacea. Having extensive training in aesthetic dermatology, Dr. Goerig knows the importance of using sun protection in order to aid the skin conditions men are susceptible to, including skin aging and skin cancer.

Dr. Goerig poses the following question for men: What are the best sun protective strategies for men?

Here’s his answer:

This is a great question that I hear often from my male patients.    Men over the age of 40 tend to spend more time outdoors than their women counterparts, accumulating much more ultraviolet radiation exposure in the process.  This is concerning given that sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer, which is now considered epidemic in the United States.  Skin cancer is the #1 cancer in men over age 50, ahead of other cancers such as colon and prostate.  According to the American Cancer Society, 39,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, occur in men each year in the US.  In fact, one in 39 Caucasian men will develop melanoma in their lifetime.  In this regard, an effective sun protection strategy is critical to preventing skin cancer and premature skin aging. 

So, what should men do?  First, avoid the intense, mid-day sun by doing outdoor activities (such as golfing, cycling or gardening) before 10 am or after 4 pm.  Doing this will avoid the majority of the day’s UV-B (cancer causing) rays.  Also, since incidental sun exposure over time can really add up, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day after shaving can go a long way toward preventing skin cancer.  Since men’s skin tends to be oilier than women’s skin, water or alcohol based gels and sprays are better because they don’t tend to leave the skin feeling greasy.   For outdoor activities, a sport sunscreen works best because it is designed to absorb quickly. Stick sunscreens, when applied to the forehead and around the eyes, are great for water activities because they won’t run into the eyes and sting.  It is important to keep trying different brands and types to see what you like best, then being consistent with it.  In addition to regular sunscreen use, protective clothing, with a UPF of at least 30, is very effective at blocking harmful ultraviolet rays.  Coolibar has a variety of excellent UPF rated clothing options for men.  For areas of the skin that are difficult to apply sunscreen to, like the inner ear and eyelid, a sun hat provides outstanding protection. 

In general, skin cancer is caused by excessive, cumulative ultraviolet radiation exposure and, in most men, is completely preventable.  Following these simple recommendations can go a long way toward keeping your skin protected and cancer free. 

Written by:  Ryan Goerig, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology

Visit Vorteil Dermatology

Visit Coolibar Sun Protection You Wear

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SunAWARE What's Hot

One-on-one with creator of Perfect Skin Protection, a new digital magazine from SunAWARE

A behind the scenes interview with SunAWARE International Foundation’s founder, Mary Barrow, and her vision for the new publication Perfect Skin Protection, a new magazine designed for the iPad.  Perfect Skin Protection brings together the best in skin protection advice from experts around the country. You’ll hear from doctors, nurses, spa and skin experts, product developers, educators and more. Download Perfect Skin Protection for FREE at the Apple App Store.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and the SunAWARE team.  SunAWARE started in 2007 after the publication of “Sun Protection for Life: Your Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy & Beautiful Skin.  In that publication I had used an acronym, AWARE, to provide a framework for all the information about skin cancer prevention and detection.  It then became clear that the acronym could be easily used in education materials by the anti-skin cancer community, so I founded the SunAWARE organization to find ways to reach them. Fortunately, I had a lot of support.

What is Perfect Skin Protection and how is it different than other health and beauty publications?  Perfect Skin Protection is a free magazine app for iPad.  In October you will be able to find it on the Apple ipad newsstand.  It is different from other health and beauty publications because it focuses on protecting your skin, not just finding ways to make it look good.  It takes a holistic approach while emphasizing the need for sun protection.

What inspired you to start this huge undertaking?  New technologies should never be ignored (even if they seem hard for a non technical person like myself).  Fortunately, Fleury Sommers carefully watches developments in communication technology and when she spotted the opportunity to use iPad to potentially reach millions with the SunAWARE message, she jumped on it and on me.  It is very exciting both in its ability to reach so many people and as a way to unite all the voices in the anti-skin cancer community.  

How long has this been in the works?  From the decision to try this new technology to today, it’s been a little over 90 days. We wanted to move very quickly to capitalize on the technology, to be among the first with a new magazine, but we’ve also been careful to elicit articles from key leaders in the sun protection, education and health and beauty communities. It’s been a sprint.

What is the main focus of your first issue and why did you decide this?  We have focused on the fact that skin cancer is a problem for all generations and all colors of skin.  This first edition makes a broad statement which will allow following editions to take on the issues within that statement.

What are your feelings now that you’ve come this far in making Perfect Skin Protection a reality?  It’s very exciting to see the pages come alive with photos and beautiful lay out.  It’s even more exciting to know that this edition will attract contributions from experts around the world and that there is finally one place where the public can hear all the voices that care about skin protection. 

Why is relaying the SunAWARE message so important to you?  Prevention and early detection of skin cancer can not only save lives, but can help prevent disfiguring surgeries, loss of work, and an astronomical expense to an already heavily burdened health system.  If a clear message is used for education, it is more likely to be one that is learned.  I am not a doctor, nurse or teacher, but I have worked many years as an editor, writer and communications expert, so this is the way I can make a difference in the fight against this disease. I truly believe in the idea that one should ‘give back’ in some way.  This is my way.

What was the most rewarding part of putting together Perfect Skin Protection? Seeing and hearing the immediate excitement that the magazine has generated throughout the skin care and anti-skin cancer community.

Is there anything else you want us to know?  Subscriptions for Perfect Skin Protection are free and will be available in October on the Apple iPad.  More information can be found at www.SunAWARE.org and our new website http://perfectskinprotection.com/ We welcome comments and suggestions and can be reached at mary@perfectionskinprotection.com or marymillsbarrow@sunaware.org.

I also wish to recognize the following supporters of SunAWARE.

Coolibar has been enormously generous not only financially, but in all the different areas required when putting together an organization. Coolibar is clearly mission driven, and its mission is to protect skin with the best sun protective clothing they can create. But they are also determined to help educate the public about the many reasons why sun exposure can be unhealthy. Their support, including the almost daily support provided by individuals in the company – Jennifer Annett, Alan Higley, Michael Hubsmith and Dave Brower, have, and continue to be, an integral part of the SunAWARE International Foundation.

Fleury Sommers at Sommers & Associates, with expertise in public relations and an exceptional ability to pinpoint trends in communication methods, has provided invaluable insights for ways to help SunAWARE reach the public.

The Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation has also provided on-going and greatly appreciated help in reaching educators. Maryellen Maguire-Eisen, the founder and director, has worked tirelessly to introduce the SunAWARE acronym in schools across Massachusetts and the rest of the country.

There are others. For example, Donnie Murphy, the SunAWARE Board chair, who provides both inspiration and unsurpassed organizational skills, and Dr. Charles Crutchfield, the organization’s medical advisor, who has boundless energy and is determined to educate as many people as he can reach with the SunAWARE advice, are just two of several who work with me and help create the SunAWARE team.

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Expert Rx

Skin Cancer in Skin of Color

Only people with light colored skin can get skin cancer—right? The truth is that anyone of any ethnic background is susceptible to all types of skin cancer including melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is in fact more common in Caucasians. When caught early and treated soon after, skin cancer is almost always curable. However, it’s more likely to be fatal in people of color because it’s usually detected at later stages.

Dermatologist Dr. Charles Crutchfield III, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in ethnic skin, is also concerned that people of color oftentimes believe they’re protected from skin cancer and that if a cancerous lesion develops, it’s not as recognizable.  “Skin hue can affect the way lesions look,” Crutchfield says. “Things that appear red in white skin often look completely different in skin of color.” In the past, teachers generally demonstrated skin cancer cases on fair-skinned people, making it more challenging for physicians to recognize suspicious moles on darker skin.

People with darker skin tones do have more “natural” protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Cells in the outermost layer of skin called melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin and eyes their color. This pigmentation helps protect the skin against the sun’s ultraviolet rays that can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. “In African American skin, melanin provides a sun protection factor (SPF) approximately equivalent to 13.4, compared to 3.4 in white skin,” states the SCF.

“Pigmentation doesn’t give you a free pass,” says Crutchfield. “It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, anyone can get skin cancer.” Crutchfield also notes that even though pigmentation does offer some sun protection, that using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and broad-spectrum coverage is recommended for everyone. “I also recommend sun protective clothing and sun hats with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) as it’s more effective and easier to use than sunscreen alone,” says Crutchfield. Crutchfield, along with other skin cancer prevention organizations, hope that ethnic groups will soon pick-up the message and start protecting themselves from the sun.

Resources:

http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/skin-cancer-and-skin-of-color

http://www.crutchfielddermatology.com/treatments/ethnicskin/SkinCareforPeopleofcolor.asp

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/05/29/race.skin.cancer/index.html?iref=allsearch

Photo courtesy of Dr. Crutchfield

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Inside Coolibar Wellness Warriors

A rising need for skin cancer prevention resources in Tanzania

Cancer care in Tanzania is a great challenge to both the government and the citizens due to limited resources and facilities. Tanzania is increasingly facing a dual problem of communicable and chronic illnesses such as cancer. Those with albinism in Tanzania are especially suffering from skin cancer due to their sun sensitivityThe Tanzania Albino Society believes the total number of those with albinism in their region could be more than 150,000.

The East African Medical Assistance Foundation (EAMAF) has been assisting Tanzania with cancer care through Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) for many years, mainly training Radiologists who are now placed all over the country in public and private health facilities. Secondly they have help equip KCMC with diagnostic equipments and facilities. Despite contributions thus far, helping people with Skin Cancer prevention, especially for those with albinism, is paramount.

Global Health Ministries in Fridley, MN who arranges the safe arrival of the EAMAF supply containers in Africa provided a route to get approximately 800 Coolibar sun protective items into this area to assist with skin cancer prevention efforts. This effort was imperative to many as UVA and UVB rays contribute to skin aging, cataracts and skin cancer.

We at Coolibar wished to share the cheerful photos of when the donated product arrived! Also, a special thanks to our Coolibar colleague Ben Socwell for introducing Coolibar to these life changing organizations!

Photo album of presentation of Coolibar clothing and hat to Albino National Leadership and Member of Parliament in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania:

[nggallery id=30]

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