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...

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...

US Cancer Screening Below National Targets

The percentage of people screened forcancer in the US remains below national targets for 2020, with rates lower among Asian and Hispanic Americans than other groups, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released on Friday. The report shows that in 2010, the screening rate for breast cancer was 72.4%, compared to the 2020 national target of 81%, for cervical cancer it was 83%, compared to a target of 93%, and for colorectal it was 58.6% percent, compared to a target of 70.5%. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of health professionals, recommends screening tests for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. As part of its Healthy People 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services has set 10-year national targets for such recommended tests, and identifies the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) as the way to measure progress. For breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening, the USPSTF recommends that: Women aged 50 to 74 years have a mammogram every two years, Women who have been sexually active or aged 21 to 65 years have a Pap test at least every three years, and Average-risk men and women aged 50 - 75 years, should either (1) do a high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT) at home every year; (2) undergo sigmoidoscopy every five years with FOBT every three years; or (3) undergo colonoscopy every 10 years. Data from the NHIS allows researchers to assess people's use of currently recommended screening tests by age, race, ethnicity, education, how long they have lived in the US, and who...

India Polio-Free For One Year

India, which was once a major polio hotspot, has reported no new cases of the disease in just over 12 months, ever since a two-year old female case on 13th January, 2011, in the state of West Bengal. According to WHO (World Health Organization), India used to be known as the planet's "epicenter" of polio. WHO scientists say that as soon as all remaining lab investigations come back negative, India will be officially recognized as a nation that has stopped indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus, leaving just three countries with existing indigenous transmissions - Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Despite this major achievement, scientists say India must not become complacent. Childhood immunity against wild poliovirus must be religiously maintained, as should nationwide surveillance. Unfortunately, and also rather worryingly, Pakistan and Afghanistan have had rising numbers of reported poliovirus infections over the last 12 months. Poliovirus found its way from Pakistan into China, re-infecting the country after it had been polio-free for over a decade. Nigeria, DR Congo, and Chad continue having active polio transmission. There have also been sporadic outbreaks in Central and West Africa over the past year. Polio will remain a global threat as long as it exists somewhere in the world, says WHO. Health experts and leaders throughout the world praised India for its dedication and commitment to the eradication of polio, as well as the millions of health workers, including vaccinators, community mobilizers, Rotarians, caregivers and parents who have been behind this drive over the last decade. Over 170 million kids under 5 are vaccinated annually in India - this includes 70 million in very high-risk areas. A...

Majority Of Smokers Do Not Appreciate The Risks

The majority of smokers do not appreciate the risks of their habit, according to new research from the NHS in England, which has launched a new Smokefree campaign to help smokers quit this New Year. The NHS commissioned research and consulting organisation YouGov to carry out the research. They surveyed 1,000 smoking adults in England between 8th and 12th December 2011. The results suggest that more than half of smokers underestimate the damage smoking does to their personal health and finances: 53% of smokers underestimate how many people die each year from smoking-related diseases by 70,000 or more (actual figures show that in England, over 80,000 deaths a year are smoking-related).   58% underestimate how many long-term smokers die early because of their habit (actual figures show half of all long-term smokers die prematurely from a smoking-related disease).   35% underestimate how many cancer deaths are caused by smoking (in England, estimates put this at nearly a third of all cancer deaths).   8% of smokers still don't believe smoking can seriously damage their health and lead to early death.   Smokers tend to understimate the financial cost of smoking. With a pack of 20 cigarettes now costing an average of £6.59, a smoker who smokes 20 a day spends over £2,400 a year on cigarettes. The survey showed on average, smokers under-estimate the annual cost of their habit by more than £600. Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "Quitting smoking is the very best thing you can do to improve your health this New Year." "What's clear is that the majority of smokers want to quit smoking and free NHS help is...
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