Tags Posts tagged with "sun"


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We look forward to it all year. Your kids can’t wait to be free from school and you can’t wait to sip a cool drink by the pool.

But, the sun is a powerful entity. While it is clinically proven to lift your mood and regulate your circadian rhythm, the sun is chiefly responsible for one-in-five Americans developing skin cancer by the time they are 70 — and just five sunburns can double your chances of melanoma.

So, what can we do to continue enjoying the warmth of summer, while also remaining protected? First, let’s break down the forms of skin cancer most caused by sun overexposure.

Melanoma: The most dangerous of skin cancers, it can present itself anywhere on the body. If you are seeing large brown spots with dark speckles, moles that change in color, size or feel, moles with irregular borders and portions that appear black or blue, itching and burning or dark spots on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, you should seek out a medical professional.

Basal-cell carcinoma: The most common type of skin cancer, usually found on areas of the body most exposed to the sun. This form typically grows slowly and rarely spreads (metastasizes). However, if left untreated, it can invade nearby tissues and cause disfigurement. It often appears as a flesh-colored, scar-like or pearl-like bump and is often shiny or waxy. The edges of the lesion are typically smooth and may have a rolled border. It bleeds easily when scratched. 

Squamous-cell carcinoma: This form presents slightly differently from melanoma and basal-cell carcinoma. Squamous-cell carcinoma occurs on sun-exposed areas as a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface.

Merkel-cell carcinoma: This type presents as a painless, firm bump or nodule on the skin that grows fast as a red, scaly or ulcerated area on the skin and/or a new mole that changes in size, color or shape.

Sebaceous gland carcinoma: This is a very rare but aggressive form of skin cancer that begins in the body’s oil-producing, sebaceous gland. It can often be mistaken for pink eye, as it usually starts on the eyelid, and can cause growths to ooze fluid. The cancer can also develop in hairy areas of the body due to the fact that sebum is released by the hair follicle.

Luckily, there are many ways to avoid the risks of the beating sun. Here are some tips to stay safe this year. According to Harvard Health Publishing, at Harvard Medical School:

1. Always wear sunscreen, applying it at least every two hours but do not rely on it alone. Seek shade often and whenever available. SPF 30 and up is recommended, with SPF 30 protecting against 97% of ultraviolet B rays.

2. Wear sun-protective clothing, preferably made of polyester, nylon, wool and silk, to block the UV rays.

3. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.

4. Be aware that some medicines and skin care products can increase your skin’s risk of UV damage. These include certain antibiotics, as well as some prescription medicines that are used to treat mental health disorders, high blood pressure, heart failure, acne and allergies. If you are taking prescription medication, and you normally spend a great deal of time outdoors, ask your health care professional whether you should take any special precautions to avoid sun exposure.

5. Early detection is key, with survival rates up to 99%, when caught. If something seems abnormal, have it checked ASAP. 

Now that you are armed with all this information, get out in the sun and have a safe but great summer.

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The eclipse has come and gone, and for me it lived up to its advanced billing. It was awesome. I can’t say I was prepared to be awed. In fact, since most “great” shows tend to be overhyped, especially with all the different platforms we now communicate on, from radio and TV to blogs, websites, mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter and the rest, they are over previewed and inevitably a letdown.

Not so last Monday’s eclipse. I happened to be taking a vacation day, and my family was visiting, so there were a number of us getting ready for the event. We weren’t particularly excited about what was predicted to happen. I think curious was a better description. None of us had secured the appropriate glasses in advance but fortunately a good friend put a pair in my hands at the last minute, and that made all the difference.

Without the glasses, we were told not to look at the sun for fear of damaging our retinas. The day dawned pleasantly enough, with blue sky and bright sun but, as the morning wore on, the light breeze that started the day disappeared altogether. We noted that fact because we have a little Hobie Cat that we use to get out on the water, and there wasn’t even enough wind to move that slender craft. As we sat around the patio, there was an air of expectancy around noon, although maybe I was just projecting. We heard no birdsong, saw no squirrels and thought the yard unusually quiet. By then the bright sun had yielded to what seemed like overhanging clouds, but there weren’t low clouds in the sky. By 1:30 p.m., there was perceptibly less light.

By 2:30, one by one we looked up at the sun through the protective glasses, and each of us emitted an involuntary noise. The moon, essentially a black disc, was moving west to east across the lower three-quarters of the sun. We could see it clearly, with no clouds in the way. The feeling was of watching something happening that was profoundly greater than any human activity. In fact, I had a similar sensation when I stood at the top of a mountain in Alaska and looked out over the hundreds of miles of landscape with not a human or a human structure in sight. I felt the utter insignificance of humans in the cosmos.

Just as predicted for the New York region, around 2:40 we saw the maximum area of sun occluded by the moon, and just around that time there was a fierce gust of wind that came from nowhere and shook the surrounding trees, with their lush summer leaves, into a frenzy. It was almost spooky. After a few minutes, the wind diminished and turned into a summer breeze.

We sat in a circle, passing the cardboard glasses from hand to hand, and continued to marvel at the sight of the moon blocking most of the sun. But the surface of the moon did not seem uniformly dense, rather appearing to let patches of light through parts of the disc — or so it appeared to me. Then, as the minutes ticked by and the moon moved off, it was almost with regret that we saw it leave. For those all-too-brief moments, we had witnessed what only the gods can see: the movement of the inner parts of the universe as some sort of well-regulated Swiss watch. It was a stately dance of the planets, predictable for its steps but thrilling on its cosmic scale.

Then it was over and, as one, we rose to take advantage of the newfound breeze and get in some late afternoon sailing. But somehow we weren’t quite the same. Yes, we know the basics: That the Earth revolves around the sun and the moon revolves around the Earth, a kind of merry-go-round within a merry-go-round. But to witness a tiny part of that movement, for even the shortest time, can only be described as leaving us in awe. 

Councilwoman Susan Berland stands with the free sunscreen dispenser now at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport. File photo from A.J. Carter

As residents try to soak up the last few weeks of the sun’s rays, Huntington officials introduced a new program to help make sure the skin of their residents is as protected as possible.

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) is leading a free sunscreen pilot program that kicked off at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport last week. The beach is now equipped with a sunscreen dispenser from the Melanoma Foundation of New England, a nonprofit that works to promote protecting skin from the sun. The dispenser is easy to use, similar to antiseptic dispensers, and is filled with organic, SPF 30 sunscreen.

“I believe that by providing this service to our residents we are helping them guard themselves from the sun, educate themselves on better sun protection and ultimately help the fight against skin cancer,” Berland said in a statement. “The importance of sunscreen is crucial and I’m hopeful that residents will take advantage of the free sunscreen now offered by the town.”

Berland said in a phone interview that she learned about the work the MFNE did through a constituent visiting Boston and wanted to bring the program to Huntington.

After the 2014 “Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer,” the MFNE went to work providing free sunscreen in public recreation areas across New England.

According to the 2014 report, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and most cases are preventable. Melanoma is responsible for the most deaths of all skin cancers, killing almost 9,000 people each year. It is also one of the most common types of cancer among U.S. adolescents and young adults.

Berland said she hopes the dispenser will help children enjoy a day at Crab Meadow Beach.

“A lot of time people damage their skin as children and teenagers, but it takes years for the damage to manifest,” she said. “I’d like to encourage people who don’t bring sunscreen to protect themselves for the future.”

The councilwoman said she wants to bring this program back next year and expand it by providing stations at more beaches and other recreational places. However, she needs to find the funding first.

Each dispenser costs approximately $665, $400 for the dispenser, $200 for the refill package and $65 for shipping. The first dispenser was purchased through the town, but Berland said any future dispensers would need to be sponsored and purchased by a business, organization or resident. Berland said she is hoping to get several sponsors between now and the beginning of summer 2017.