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May 2011

May 2011

Tanning: is it really that bad for you?

By Rodney S.W. Basler, MD
South Lincoln Dermatology

Rodney S.W. Basler, MDDespite the efforts of cancer societies and dermatologists, most Americans still equate a summer tan with attractiveness and health. Unfortunately, research clearly indicates that long-term, indiscriminate exposure to sunlight is a cause of:

  • *Premature aging of the skin  
  • *Skin cancers
  • *Precancerous growths

In fact, the latest evidence confirms a direct relationship between sun exposure and lethal malignant melanoma. In the short term, tanning may make you look young and fit, but over time it will leave you wrinkled, scarred, and possibly DEAD.

With this body of evidence in mind, protective measures and moderation must be advised for all who enjoy outdoor activities during the sunny days of spring and summer.  

Sunlight has the greatest proportion of wavelengths within the sunburn spectrum during the hours when the rays travel the shortest distance through the atmosphere, which is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Love your skin? Protect it!

A simple suggestion is to limit your sun exposure to early morning and late afternoon. Avoid sunlight during the hours on either side of noon, when the rays within the spectrum are more intense.

For those who wish to continue basking in direct, mid-day sun at the side of a pool, the best solution is to apply of one of the newer sunscreens, which contain ingredients that protect against UVA and UVB wavelengths. These preparations provide significant protection while allowing some minimal pigment darkening.

Sunscreens should deliver an SPF of a minimum of 15, with SPF 30 now recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.  The lotion should be applied 20-30 minutes before sun exposure, and importantly, reapplied every two to four hours, especially when perspiration or water emersion are factors. 

The ultimate recommendation for sunscreens is this: USE THEM - THEY WORK! 

Be smart, for your health's sake, and enjoy the summer!

Article from our health library: Summer Safety Tips 


Is depression affecting you?

David Miers, PhDBy David Miers, PhD
Manager, BryanLGH Mental Health Services

More than 20 million Americans are diagnosed with depression each year. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, this illness affects more people than any other mental health condition. However, the World Health Organization reports that less than 25 percent of individuals with depression receive adequate treatment. People fail to recognize depression or refuse to get help. Sometimes this is due to the beliefs that depression is not serious or seeking treatment is a sign of weakness.

Depression is a serious medical condition and if left untreated, can lead to other mental health disorders such as alcohol and substance abuse, and higher rates of suicide.

Everyone gets down from time to time but depression is more than just the "blues."  It is important to have an understanding of the signs and symptoms of depression.

Depression can occur in anyone, any age, and any race or ethnic group.  It can vary in intensity and duration, even disappearing entirely only to reoccur later.

Is depression affecting you?
Common Symptoms of depression include:

  • Depressed mood (e.g. feeling sad or empty)
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Significant weight loss or gain, or decrease or increase in appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Agitation, restlessness, irritability
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • Inability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as headaches, chronic pain, and digestive disorders)
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation, suicide attempt or plan for completing suicide

When several symptoms of depression occur at the same time, last longer than two weeks, and interfere with ordinary functioning, seek professional treatment from a physician or qualified mental health professional. 
The good news is that depression is very treatable, with 80-90 percent of people returning to usual daily activities and feelings. The most common forms of treatment for depression include antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

If you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms of depression, seek help.  Bryan Health has free, confidential depression and bipolar screenings available here. Identifying you may have a problem is the first step toward finding your way back to a healthier, happier life.



Binge Drinking: Harmless entertainment or lethal activity?

By Larry Widman
Addiction and Sport Psychiatrist
Medical Director, BryanLGH Independence Center
Sport Psychiatry Consultant, University of Nebraska Athletic Department
Larry Widman, Addiction & Sport Psychiatrist

Have you talked to your teens and college-age kids about binge drinking lately? Especially at this time of year, when prom and graduation/finals parties make drinking prevalent, it is important to discuss the dangers of binge drinking if you value your child's life.

Binge drinking, by definition, is five or more drinks for a male and four or more drinks for a female in one setting (or two hour period). The highest risk for binge drinking is between the ages of 18 and 25.

College students that binge drink are more likely to damage property, have academic problems, and have trouble with authorities. Each year in the U.S., binge drinking leads to: Binge Drinking: Harmless Entertainment or lethal activity? 

  • 1,700 deaths
  •  600,000 injuries
  •  700,000 assaults
  • 100,000 cases of sexual abuse
  •  400,000 students that have unsafe sex
  •  2,000,000 students that drink and drive (with police involvement for 5 percent of these students)

Alcohol poisoning is a serious consequence many young people seldom consider. Alcohol poisoning is an excessive amount of alcohol in the bloodstream that can kill by stopping breathing or causing the passed-out person to choke on his or her own vomit as the body seeks to rid itself of the toxins. 

From 1999-2005, 157 college students in the U.S. died as a result of alcohol poisoning. In a recent study of 2,518 college students at the University of Missouri, 34 percent of males, and 24 percent of females reported in participating in some variation of the "21 drinks/shots on their 21st birthday." Deaths occur each year on college campuses because of this behavior.

 A UNL student this past summer crossed the mid-line while driving his car. He killed four people riding on motorcycles. Not surprisingly, alcohol was involved. How many lives have to be destroyed because of alcohol before we as a society do something to decrease the number of negative life events in which alcohol plays a part?

Talk to your teens and young adult children about binge drinking. Make sure they understand the risks, and that they don't see this behavior exhibited in the home. If you have kids that are away at college, check in with them frequently about their habits relating to alcohol. Remind them that it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing on Friday night or after prom--alcohol abuse is a matter of life and death.



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