SPF50+: how well does it protect you?

When you're picking up your holiday supplies over the coming weeks you will probably notice something different sitting on the sunscreen shelves. These new sunscreens, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50+ (SPF50+), certainly sound as though they'll offer a lot more protection than those which have been available until now. But experts warn we shouldn't become careless about sun safety when using them. "The way we should approach this is to say, 'I'll still limit my time in the sun, but when I am in the sun I have that little bit extra protection'," says Professor Michael Kimlin, head of the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Centre for Research Excellence in Sun and Health. "The amount of change between (SPF)30+ and 50+ is small, and people need to be aware that sunscreen is always the last line of defence." Honorary secretary of the Australasian College of Dermatologists Dr Philip Artemi agrees, saying wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and appropriate clothing, seeking shade and staying out of the sun in the middle of the day is just as important as ever. What SPF50+ really means The sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen refers to the length of time it takes for skin to burn after you have applied sunscreen. It also refers to how much light it stops from reaching the skin. "If you normally burn in five minutes (without sunscreen), with SPF30+ you have 150 minutes of grace; with SPF50+ you have 250 minutes," says Artemi. SPF50+ sunscreens block 98 per cent of UVB rays – compared to 96.7 per cent in SPF30+ sunscreens. The broad...

Chemotherapy During Pregnancy Does Not Risk The Child’s General Health

A recent study published by the The Lancet Oncology indicates that children of women who received chemotherapy during their pregnancy suffer no adverse effects, developing as well as children in the general population. The study was led by Dr Frédéric Amant, Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Center, Leuven Cancer Institute, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. The researchers assessed 68 pregnancies of mothers who received an average of three to four cycles of chemotherapy - a total of 236 cycles. The average age of cancer diagnosis for the mothers was 18 weeks into pregnancy. The median gestation age of birth was at 36 weeks, with two thirds (47) of the women giving birth before 37 weeks. A total of 70 children were assessed, ranging from ages 1.5 to 18 years. They carried out a series of tests on the children to examine their overall health and development, including: Bayley or intelligence quotient tests, electrocardiography and echocardiography, and a questionnaire on general health and development. Children above the age of 5 were given more tests such as the Auditory Verbal Learning Test, audiometry, the Test of Everyday Attention for Children, and their parents were to complete a 'Child Behavior Checklist'. Neurocognitive outcomes were within normal ranges for children born at full term, children born preterm, however, had lower results, but the authors stress that this difference is found among the general population as well. The results of the tests indicated that the children's behavior, general health, heart dimensions/function, hearing, and growth were all equal to the average results of children in the general population. The authors said: "We show that children who were prenatally exposed to chemotherapy do as well as other...

What Is Fatigue? What Causes Fatigue?

Fatigue, also referred to as tiredness, exhaustion, lethargy, and listlessness, describes a physical and/or mental state of being tired and weak. Although physical and mental fatigue are different, the two often exist together - if a person is physically exhausted for long enough, they will also be mentally tired. When somebody experiences physical fatigue, it means they cannot continue functioning at their normal levels of physical ability. Mental fatigue, however, is more slanted towards feeling sleepy and being unable to concentrate properly. Fatigue is a symptom, rather than a sign. A symptom is something the patient feels and describes, such as a headache or dizziness, while a sign is something the doctor can detect without talking to the patient, such as a rash. Fatigue is a non-specific symptom, i.e. it may have several possible causes. Mental and physical fatigue Physical fatigue - the person's muscles cannot do things as easily as they used to. Climbing stairs or carrying laden supermarket bags may be much harder than before. Physical fatigue is also known as muscle weakness, weakness, or lack of strength. Doctors usually carry out a strength test as they go about diagnosing and trying to find out the causes of individual cases of physical fatigue. Psychological (mental) fatigue - concentrating on things has become harder. When symptoms are severe the patient might not want to get out of bed in the morning, or perform his/her daily activities. Mental fatigue often appears together with physical fatigue in patients, but not always. People may feel sleepy, have a decreased level of consciousness, and in some cases show signs similar to that of an intoxicated state. Mental fatigue may be...

Breast Cancer Surgery Often Repeated To Take Out More Tissue

Written by Christian Nordqvist 22.9% of breast cancer patients who undergo partial mastectomies need further operations to remove more tissue, researchers reported in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). The authors, from Michigan State University, added that rates of reexcision vary considerably between surgeons and clinics/hospitals; this variation does not appear to be caused by patients' clinical characteristics. "Excision" means the surgical removal of something, which in this text means a tumor. "Reexcision" means additional surgery in the same area. Current health care reforms that are taking place in the USA call for more doctor and hospital transparency and accountability of patient outcomes. The authors wrote: "Breast-conserving therapy, or partial mastectomy, is one of the most commonly performed cancer operations in the United States. Currently, there are no readily identifiable quality measures that allow for meaningful comparisons of breast cancer surgical outcomes among treating surgeons and hospitals." A surgeon's aim when performing a mastectomy is to achieve adequate surgical margins - there should be a rim of normal tissue around the excised tumor so that there is no cancerous tissue left behind. Additionally, the cosmetic appearance of the breast should be maintained as much as possible. If clear margins are not achieved after the initial surgery, further surgical intervention will be required. Additional operations cause significant physical, emotional, mental and economicstress for patients, and also delay vital supplemental therapies. The authors wrote: "Thus, the effect of reexcision on altering a patient's initial treatment of choice is significant." Laurence E. McCahill, M.D., and team set out to measure what the reexcision rates are across surgeons and hospitals in the USA that treat patients with comparable clinical conditions....

Sleep Apnea Has Higher Risk Of Cancer Mortality

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health released a study today showing that those suffering from sleep apnea appear to have an increased risk of cancer mortality.  Previous studies have linked the sleep disordered breathing (SBD) problems to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression and earlier death, but this is the first to find a link tocancer. Lead author Dr. F. Javier Nieto, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health commented that the study had subjects with severe SBD had five times higher incidence of cancer deaths, more than just a statistical anomaly. Previous studies in animals have shown similar results, while other studies have linked cancer to possible lack of oxygen or anaerobic cell activity over long periods of time, therefore, it's possible poor breathing fails to oxygenate the cells sufficiently. Dr. Nieto, an expert in sleep epidemiology continued: "Clearly, there is a correlation, and we are a long way from proving that sleep apnea causes cancer or contributes to its growth ... But animal studies have shown that the intermittent hypoxia (an inadequate supply of oxygen) that characterizes sleep apnea promotes angiogenesis-increased vascular growth - and tumor growth. Our results suggest that SDB is also associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality in humans." Dr. Nieto presented his study at the American Thoracic Society 2012 International Conference in San Francisco on May 20th. His study was supported by the National Institutes of Health's the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institute on Aging, and the former National Center for Research Resources. Dr. Susan B. Shurin, acting...
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