Should You Tan During the Summer?

The simplest answer to this question is no; unless you take precautions.

So, what does tanning do to you?

Not only does it come from the burning of your skin, which can cause skin cancer, but tanning also allows very harmful UV rays to penetrate your skin and damage your DNA.

When Dr. Roxana Daneshjou, a dermatology resident at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was asked about tanning her response was, “There’s really no such thing as safe tanning, other than putting a fake color on your skin. Fairer-skinned people may not even tan until they burn.”

It’s also important not to make the mistake that the more burnt you are the worse, as even the skin damage at the very start of the tanning process is still very dangerous itself, according to Dr. Daneshjou.

Dr. Daneshjou also noted that people who tan for aesthetic reasons are hurting themselves in the long run.

She explains this as melanin in the skin absorbs UV rays to a point, acting as the skin’s natural sunscreen, but the process of adding an extra dose of melanin to the skin (a.k.a. tanning) is a defense mechanism that begins only after damage has been done.

UVA Rays break down the natural collagen (skin’s support structure) in the skin, which can lead to premature aging.

Without this support, structure skin wrinkles, thins and weakens, taking on a papery appearance.

Dr. Daneshjou claims no anti-aging product, even the dermatologist-recommended ones, can slow skin aging as much as simply using sunscreen in the first place.

To prevent these kinds of problems, dermatologists recommend everyone use sunscreen (broad-spectrum products specifically) year-round.

UVB exposure increases in the summer and decreases in the winter, but UVA exposure occurs year-round.

Both forms of UV light can pierce through windshields and clouds. causing damage on even cloudy days.

Anytime you plan to be outside for an extended amount of time you should apply an FDA registered, Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen reflect harmful UV rays.

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Should Children Use Different Sunscreen Than Adults?

It’s important to protect yourself, along with your children, but do you have to use different sunscreens to do so?

If you apply the right sunscreen, the answer is no.

But, what qualifies a sunscreen to be appropriate for everyone, regardless of ages?

To start, the US Food and Drug Administration recommends buying products labeled with at least SPF 15, and the American Academy of Dermatology puts the bar at SPF 30.

Of these two, it’s best to stay cautious and use an SPF 30 product, as these products will protect longer.

Dr. Lisa Garner, a private-practice dermatologist and a clinical professor in dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, explains how labeling of these products tells a more vivid story.

“If you look at ingredients in sunscreen, you really don’t see many differences in the sunscreens that are marketed towards children versus the ones that are marketed toward adults — except perhaps in the fragrances.”

Different products are scented specifically for children to admire, but the scents are not what really matters.

Dr. Eleni Linos, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California claims, “Essentially, the SPF value is what’s worth focusing on.”

Sunscreen provides a shield against harmful UV rays, which can cause sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer.

The higher the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) the more of this radiation gets stopped in its tracks.

Linos explains that SPF refers only to protection from UVB rays (burning rays), not UVA rays.

To protect against both, “you want to make sure that you’re choosing a sunscreen that has ‘broad spectrum’ on it.”

These products can also deceptive, as the FDA claims “no sunscreens are ‘waterproof.’ All sunscreens eventually wash off.”

However, some products market themselves as “water-resistant” or “very water-resistant,” which just means the SPF on the label stays true to itself underwater for 40-80 minutes.

It is still necessary to reapply sunscreen to avoid damaging UV rays.

Experts in this field recommend applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen thirty minutes before going outside and reapplying frequently (every two hours or soon after sweating or playing in the water; whichever comes first).

To protect babies younger than 6 months old, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends when it’s called for, “sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide” as these products are “less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.”

According to this academy, products containing other compounds, such as Oxybenzone, have also been deemed safe to use and FDA-approved for kids 6 months and older.

Experts recommend lotions over spray, citing a risk of inhalation and an easier way to gauge whether you’ve applied the right amount or not.

Dr. Garner commented with, “My friends and their children, they love the sprays. They’re easier to put on. But if you don’t rub them in, you frequently miss areas.”

Dawn Holman, a behavioral scientist in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, has said, “With lotions, you know how much you are applying to your skin, and that’s important because you want to know that you are putting on an adequate amount to protect your skin.”

Dr. Linos gives the general advice that, “As long as it has an SPF factor of 30 or above. I tell patients to just go for a product they like, because that means they’ll use it more often.”

Overall, sunscreen is typically acceptable for everyone to use, but after going through this list it is highly advised to use a Broad Spectrum, SPF 30 sunscreen product containing Zinc Oxide as its main ingredient.

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CDC Reports Spike in Flu-Related Deaths in Children

A recent study performed by the CDC provided some shocking statistics that are cause for concern.

169 children in the United States have lost their lives this flu season so far.

Experts say the final total will surpass that number.

The CDC says the flu death toll for children is expected to climb to a record number since 2004.

Doctors say children younger than five years are at high risk of serious flu complications and children six months and older can get vaccinated.

Most people assume flu season is over when the winter ends, although, influenza circulates year-round.

It is crucial to wash your hands thoroughly and use an alcohol-free hand sanitizer frequently to stop the spread of harmful germs all year long.

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Flu Deaths Rise in The Carolinas

North and South Carolina have had a tough flu season with at least 600 flu-related deaths reported, according to the state health department reports.

Dr. Charles Bregier, a medical director with Novant Health in Charlotte, says this was the worst flu season since the Swine Flu pandemic in 2009-2010.

According to each state’s health department reports, 375 people have died in North Carolina and 255 have died in South Carolina due to the flu.

Notably, this is a 171 percent increase for South Carolina over the last flu season.

Dr. Bregier describes his reason for concern when he said, “Our emergency departments and our urgent care centers were, and our hospitals were, just you know, absolutely overflowing with flu patients and people suffering from complications of the flu.”

Novant Health had a 60 percent increase in positive flu tests this flu season over last year’s flu season.

This year’s flu vaccine was 36 percent effective.

While this seems low, CDC data shows previous years the vaccine ranged from 10 percent effective at its lowest to 60 percent effective at its highest, so it’s a healthy medium.

However, the best way to prevent the flu from spreading is to use a non-alcoholic hand sanitizer frequently to avoid spreading germs.

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Deer tick

Lyme Disease Becomes More Prevalent in Pennsylvania

Roughly one third of all Lyme disease cases reported in the United States come from Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania tracks these cases by county, and in 2016 (most recently updated track record) Butler County had the most cases with 641.

Westmoreland was third with 577, and Allegheny County was eighth with 403 cases.

It’s alarming for three counties in the top ten affected counties in the United States to come from one state.

Tara Gresock, Monroeville Senior Center Director, arranged for a captive audience to view the documentary Under Our Skin at her facility to warn the public about Lyme Disease.

This is personal for Gresock, as she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease herself after visiting with at least 15 doctors for a year.

She explains her experience as, “It kind of felt like I stuck my finger in a socket. My whole body was, like, had that electrocution feeling, and sometimes it would last five or 10 minutes, sometimes hours.”

Pennsylvania is a large state with large forested areas, which are prime breeding grounds for the ticks that carry the Lyme Disease.

This may be the reasoning “Pennsylvania has been the number one state for the last five years in the country,” according to Dr. Shannon Smith, a Lyme literate specialist in Penn Hills.

Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans when they’re bitten by an infected tick, and symptoms of Lyme disease can include a rash, fatigue, fever and joint pain.

Lyme Disease testing is difficult to track, as many false negatives are reported.

Bill Moore, a man who had Lyme Disease, said of his experience “I was tested several times, and tested negative several times.”

It took three years for Moore to be diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

Moore now leads a region of the Pennsylvania Lyme Resource Network where he and others, including Gresock, have made it their mission to educate people about Lyme disease through community meetings.

“I remember us asking how many people suffer from Lyme, and out of the 100 people, I would say 90 percent raised their hands,” Gresock said referring to a meeting.

Lyme Disease is preventable, and precautions should be taken to avoid being bitten by ticks that spread Lyme.

An EPA registered, IR 3535 Insect Repellent product is highly recommended to repel harmful insect bites that could cause diseases like Lyme and others.

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Another Mosquito Species Could Spread Zika

Recent lab results suggest another mosquito species could transfer Zika, according to some University of Florida scientists.

UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers detected Zika in the saliva of southern house mosquitoes collected in Florida.

Chelsea Smartt, an associate professor at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Lab in Vero Beach, Florida, said her study’s finding supports that the mosquito species, Culex Quinquefasciatus, can contain Zika virus in its saliva.

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are currently considered the primary carrier of Zika virus.

If more species of mosquitoes can carry and transmit the Zika virus then we need to be much more cautious with ourselves.

Smartt stresses to researchers the importance of performing more experiments to know whether and how much of a role Culex Quinquefasciatus plays in spreading Zika, as this discovery has only recently been introduced.

Culex Quinquefasciatus is common in the southern United States and is abundant in Florida.

This mosquito is found in tropical and sub-tropical areas, including Brazil, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Basically, in areas of the world where mosquitoes feed on humans, there may be populations of Culex Quinquefasciatus that can spread Zika, Smartt added.

An EPA registered, IR 3535 Insect Repellent is highly recommended to repel all mosquito and other insect bites that cause harmful diseases.

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Is A Higher SPF Sunscreen Better?

It seems obvious when buying sunscreen that you want the highest SPF product to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ways, right?

Actually, there is not a very big difference between an SPF 15 product and an SPF 50 product.

It is important to know what SPF is before you compare sunscreen products.

“The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number indicates the amount of theoretical protection you get compared to wearing nothing. So, if it takes 20 minutes to burn without protection, it will take 15 times longer – five hours – while wearing SPF 15.”

Also, SPF only measures protection against UVB exposure (rays that contact the surface of skin, causing sunburns), not UVA (rays that penetrate the skin and burn within, causing skin cancer).

You must look for “Broad Spectrum” products, which contain ingredients that cover both UV rays.

When comparing SPF 15 and SPF 50 products, SPF 15 protects you from about 93% of UVB rays at any given moment, SPF 50 from 98%, and SPF 100 protects from 99%.

SPF 100 is “double” what SPF 50 is, but it only protects 1% more.

Therefore, you should not purchase sunscreen based on the SPF.

The SPF number is obtained in a lab with an amount of product that no human ever actually uses, according to Dr. Darrell Rigel, a dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group and a clinical professor at NYU.

“If you were to put that on, [you would] be white as a sheet of paper. It would be ridiculous. People use approximately 25 to 50 percent of the rated amount in the real world, and therefore, they’re getting 25 to 50 percent of the SPF,” Rigel explained.

A study that was performed to “prove” SPF 100 is superior to SPF 50 has been controversial as it was funded by the owners of the first SPF 100 product themselves, Johnson & Johnson.

They compared their Neutrogena SPF 100 product against a Banana Boat SPF 50 product, meaning there are issues with the methodology as these products have differing ingredients.

The FDA does regulate sunscreens because the ingredients are considered to be over-the-counter drugs.

The FDA has considered a mandate that companies can only label sunscreens up to SPF 50+, which many other countries do, due to not enough sufficient evidence that higher SPFs are better.

Over the past five years or so, the messaging has been clear that using anything over 50 is probably unnecessary.

Although, according to Dr Rigel, “The FDA is actually using the paper now to take a look at this and they probably will not be putting an SPF cap of 50+ on sunscreens at this point.”

Rigel also said it’s very difficult to chemically engineer a product much higher than an SPF 100, but these products will be for sale now.

Neutrogena’s Sheer Dry Touch SPF 100 sunscreen is $8.10 for three ounces; the SPF 55 version is $7.11 for the same size.

It’s a dollar price difference for two products that are relatively the same.

The FDA recommends a Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen containing the main active ingredient Zinc Oxide.

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Vector Borne Diseases Have More Than Tripled in Amount since 2004

With Summer coming around the corner the CDC and Prevention experts are urging people to beware of bugs.

A recent report revealed that diseases transmitted through the bites of blood-feeding Ticks, Mosquitoes, and Fleas are a “growing public health problem” in the United States, and this has been a growing issue for many years.

According to the Vital Signs Report by the CDC on May 2nd, Vector-Borne Diseases have more than tripled nationwide, from 27,388 cases reported in 2004 to 96,075 cases reported in 2016.

Dr. Lyle Petersen, an author for the report and Director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases commented, “It’s very important that the public is very aware that these are more than summertime nuisances — you can get very severe diseases from ticks and mosquitoes.”

These diseases he speaks of are Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, and others. Petersen is concerned because he had West Nile Virus in 2003 due to a mosquito bite.

“I was sick at home in bed for more than a week with severe headaches and fever and skin rash and just feeling horrible. Then after that, it took me about three months to get back to normal. It was definitely something that ruined my summer.”

This is not something to take lightly, and Dr. Petersen is set out to make sure the public is aware of these diseases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Vector-Borne Diseases account for over 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually across the globe.

This new report, based on data from the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System each year between 2004 and 2016, found 642,602 total cases of Vector-Borne Diseases through 16 different diseases.

Those diseases are as follows:

  • Lyme Disease
  • Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis
  • Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Tularemia
  • Powassan Virus
  • Dengue Viruses
  • Zika Virus
  • West Nile Virus
  • Malaria
  • Chikungunya Virus
  • California Serogroup Viruses
  • St. Louis Encephalitis Virus
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus
  • Yellow Fever Virus
  • Plague

Tick-Borne Illnesses, which accounted for more than 75% of all Vector-Borne Disease reports, grew from 22,527 cases in 2004 to 48,610 cases reported in 2016.

Of those Tick-Borne Illnesses, Lyme Disease accounted for 82% of the cumulative amount reported.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases rose from 4,858 in 2004 to 47,461 in 2016.

However, there was a large spike in 2016 with 41,680 Zika virus cases reported.

Since 2004, there have been nine Vector-borne pathogens newly identified as concerns for the United States:

  • Tick-borne viruses Heartland and Bourbon
  • Lyme disease-causing Borrelia Miyamotoi and Borrelia Mayonii bacteria
  • Two new Tick-borne Spotted Fever species
  • Rickettsia Parkeri and Rickettsia 364D
  • A newly recognized Tick-borne Ehrlichia Species
  • The Mosquito-borne viruses Chikungunya and Zika

A concerning statement from CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, says, “Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and Chikungunya – a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea – have confronted the US in recent years, making a lot of people sick. And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next.”

So, why is there such a traumatic increase?

In Dr. Petersen’s professional opinion,

“For the mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile, Zika, and Chikungunya for example, one of the big problems is that people and goods are moving around the planet at ever-increasing rates and speed, and so basically any of these mosquito-borne diseases can be transmitted almost anywhere in the world in the matter of a day. Because of this increase in travel and trade, we have just an accelerating trend towards the importation of exotic mosquito-borne diseases.”

This does make reasonable sense, and if this really is what is going on then it will be hard to stop this growing issue.

The best measure to take is to do all you can do to eliminate the spread of diseases and not be bitten by harmful insects.

The CDC recommends an EPA-registered, IR 3535 Insect Repellent to defend yourself from dangerous insect bites.

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How the Flu Kills So Fast

Recently, a 4-year-old, and 10-year-old, and a 21-year-old bodybuilder died due to the flu.

The flu is not thought to be a big killer, but every year the flu kills healthy young adults and children, and tens of thousands of people over 65.

So, how does the flu become so dangerous?

Doctors who study the body’s immune response say there are three main reasons: co-infection with another germ, aggravation of existing conditions such as heart disease and asthma; and a so-called cytokine storm.

During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, where up to 50 million people died, many people were reported to have died within hours of showing their first symptoms.

Researchers who have gone back and re-examined tissue samples, and read reports from the time, believe most deaths were caused by co-infection with another germ.

Referring to the cytokines the human immune system produces to fight infections, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at the John Hopkins University Center for Health Security, stated “Those substances work to stop the virus from spreading.”

These cause the typical “flu-like symptoms” we are used to.

“The muscle aches, the fever — all of that is the result of the immune system responding to the virus,” Adalja said.

Therefore, so many diseases have similar symptoms: it’s the body’s response, not the virus, that’s causing this distress.

However, for some people this circumstance is different.

“In certain individuals there can be a very pronounced immune response that can result in a lot of damage to the cells in your body including the cells in the respiratory tract,” Adalja said.

When a virus is new, like the 1918 strain of H1N1 and the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu”, it usually kills far more people due to your body sending too many troops to fight the newly introduced virus.

Your body sending so many troops can be overbearing and the lungs and other organs can get killed, too.

People who die from “bird flu” viruses, such as H5N1 or H7N9, also seem to die due to an over-the-top immune response.

Younger people tend to get more harmed by newer viruses because the older population may have already been introduced to a distant relative of the virus in their past.

For example, the H1N1 flu virus that infected 61 million people from 2009-2010 killed 282 U.S. children, according to the CDC.

A recent experiment showed “new” genes in these never-before-seen viruses that help them thrive deep in the lungs, which can cause pneumonia and might provoke an overwhelming immune response.

Very few people die within hours or days, which seems comforting.

However, the flu can cause lingering sickness in others; leaving them susceptible to other infections, such as streptococcal or staphylococcal bacterial infections.

These other infections can damage organs, cause pneumonia, or get into the bloodstream and cause another immune system overreaction called sepsis.

According to the CDC, 30 children have died from the flu this season so far, as compared to 110 children that died in last year’s season overall.

The CDC doesn’t precisely count adult flu deaths due to there being so many.

The flu kills 12,000 to 56,000 people yearly and sends as many as 700,000 to the hospital.

The CDC estimates flu deaths by looking at how many more people than usual died of flu and pneumonia, but even those calculations are not correct as they miss people who may have died from flu complications.

For people with asthma or other lung conditions, flu is just one more problem for the lungs to handle.

“They are already having breathing difficulties.

It can put them into a spiral very quickly where their breathing gets compromised,” Adalja said.

People with diabetes already have a damaged immune response, so they are more susceptible to flu as well.

Pregnant women are also very susceptible to the flu.

“Pregnant women are in a state of immunosuppression because the immune system is trying not to reject the fetus,” said Adalja.

So, the virus can go faster and get further in their bodies.

The flu is not something to be taken lightly, and it should be avoided at all costs.

Using a non-alcoholic hand sanitizer is recommended as it will help you fight off harmful bacteria that can cause the flu and other dangerous viruses.

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Two New Virus Carrying Mosquitoes Discovered in Florida

An Agricultural Sciences Entomologist at the University of Florida discovered two non-native mosquito species in Florida, which makes nine non-native species found in Florida this decade.

These mosquitoes are of concern as they spread diseases that can be traumatic.

Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory states his corner by saying, “These two species are known to transmit pathogens that affect human and animal health.”

Burkett-Cadena found these mosquito species (Aedeomyia Squamipennis and Culex Panocossa) in Florida City and Homestead, both of which are in south Miami-Dade County.

He and Erik Blosser, a post-doctoral researcher at the FMEL, were in Southern Florida to collect a native mosquito (Culex Cedecei), to investigate its biology and ecology, when they noticed the two-non-native species.

Although the new species were found in South Florida, it is very likely they will spread to Northern Florida and perhaps neighboring states because of widespread, suitable larval habitat, particularly water lettuce, Burkett-Cadena claims.

You never know what kind of mosquito you can be around as even non-native species are finding new territories.

It’s important now more than every to use an EPA registered, IR 3535 based Insect Repellent product to avoid being bitten by harmful insects, such as these.

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