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HealthLines: Quick Tips for Seasonal Health, Safety and Fun

A hat, sun glasses and sunscreen

Photo courtesy of Vitality Communications

"Ah, when the sun beats down …"

The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer in the United States this year. With summer on the way, it's important to protect yourself and your family.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to guard against the sun. For children, it's especially important from an early age. Doctors suggest that everyone limit time in the sun and avoid other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation:

  • Stay out of the midday sun (mid-morning to late afternoon) whenever you can and protect against reflected UV radiation (from sand, water, or snow). UV radiation can go through light clothing, windshields, windows, and clouds.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants of tightly woven fabrics, and a hat with a wide brim to absorb UV.
  • Use sunscreen lotions, especially broad-spectrum sunscreen (to filter UVB and UVA rays) with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. But you still need to avoid the sun and wear protective clothing.
  • Stay away from sunlamps and tanning beds — which can increase the chances for deadly melanoma.

To protect your vision, the National Eye Institute advises wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block the sun's UV rays and help delay cataracts, which cause cloudy or blurry vision, poor night vision, and other symptoms. If you must be out in the heat, the National Center for Environmental Health advises:

  • Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. When you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals lost in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

Online Continuing Education Series on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NIH's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) announces a free online lecture series on complementary and alternative medicine. The series is available to both health care providers and members of the public and includes video lectures and interactive tests on topics such as herbs, acupuncture, and spirituality. It is just one of many educational tools to enable patients and physicians to talk to each other about complementary and alternative medicine use. Health care providers can earn CME/CEU credits. To learn more, visit NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrataive Health.

With the game on the line, safety pays off!

From pick-up basketball in the backyard to summer league seasons of organized baseball, more Americans than ever are participating in recreational sports. The following tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are designed to help keep athletes of all ages at the peak of their abilities.

What children can do:

  • Be in proper condition to play the sport; have a preseason physical exam.
  • Follow the rules of the game.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear.
  • Know how to use athletic equipment.
  • Avoid playing when very tired or in pain.
  • Make warmups and cooldowns part of your routine. Exercises, such as stretching or light jogging, can help minimize the chances of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury. They also make the body's tissues warmer and more flexible. Cooldown exercises loosen the muscles that have tightened during exercise.

For adult athletes:

  • Don't be a "weekend warrior," packing a week's worth of activity into a day or two; try to maintain a moderate level of activity throughout the week.
  • Learn to do your sport right. Proper form reduces the risk of "overuse" injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.
  • Remember safety gear. Depending on the sport, this may mean knee or wrist pads, chest protector, helmet, or more.
  • Accept your body's limits. You may not be able to perform at the same level you did 10 or 20 years ago; modify activities as necessary.
  • Increase exercise levels gradually.
  • Strive for a total body workout of cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises; cross-training reduces injury and promotes fitness.

"An ounce of prevention …"

For more tips on avoiding the sun's effects, playing sports safely and confidently, or maintaining your health, season by season, go to

Spring 2007 Issue: Volume 2 Number 2 Page 28