According to recent estimates, skin cancer accounts for half of all cancers in the U.S. More than 3.5 million cases of basal or squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed yearly; these types of skin cancer are generally found on the base or surface of the skin and can be cured if treated early enough. Melanoma — the most deadly of all skin cancers that affects the melanocytes, or cells that create skin pigmentation — accounts for more than 2/3rds of skin-cancer related deaths; this year, more than 76,000 cases are expected to be diagnosed. And, one person dies of melanoma in this country every 57 minutes.
In other words, skin cancer is not something to mess around with.
If you are like me, a child of the 60s and 70s, catching rays meant baby oil and tin foil. My father, who is in his late 80s, grew up on the beach and has spent the last 20 years having patch after patch of skin cancer removed. His body is a veritable skin cancer harvester, and he has even been permanently disfigured due to a botched procedure to freeze cancer cells below the surface of the skin on his nose. He’s lucky; he’s still alive and catching those cancers early enough.
I can’t emphasize it more: wear sunscreen. Moreover, wear it when you are in the car!
A study in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology demonstrates that sun protection while driving is sorely lacking, despite the fact that driving evidently constitutes the largest percentage of total time spent outdoors, more than exercise or gardening. Moreover, on average, the majority of people in this country spend 80 to 100 minutes of their day in their cars.
Mind you, this is a retrospective study, which means that the researchers look back at events that have already occurred; this case, they mailed surveys to 675 patients who had previously attended a surgical clinic for skin cancer. Of all of these patients, 90% had a history of at least one type of skin cancer and 30, of malignant skin cancer.
Ironically? A majority did not believe that they needed to wear sunscreen while driving regardless of whether or not the windows were open or closed, although 53% of people with a prior history of skin cancer thought that they should wear it with the windows open. Real life use of sunscreen was different; about a third of these people reported wearing sunscreen “most of the time,” while only 15% used it while driving. What’s more, about a third of the people who reported wearing sunscreen most of the time while in a vehicle did not apply it to their arms or hands.
Additionally, having tinted car windows didn’t seem to provide additional protection. An equal percentage of people with or without tinted windows developed non-malignant skin cancer (85%); the only difference was the side of the body the skin cancer resided.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Automobile glass does not contribute to skin cancer equally. Important factors include the type of glass, the degree of tinting and the presence or absence of lamination or UV-absorbing film.
- In one study, clear auto glass transmitted 62% of UV radiation whereas dark-tinted glass transmitted 11.4%.
- Windshields are made from laminated glass that allows, on average, 2% transmission of UV radiation. Conversely, your side and rear windows are typically non-laminated and allow up to 80% of UV radiation. This means that the shoulder, arm and hand closest to the window needs to be protected because they are receiving the highest exposure to UV rays.
There are some issues with this study; for example, it relied on recall and and patients may have overestimated or even underestimated real exposure. However, the message is quite clear: wear sunscreen when you drive.
p.s. May is skin cancer awareness month. Pass it on: wear sunscreen, period.Read More
I was scrolling through my Facebook stream yesterday and came upon a post written by a woman I know via the social spheres. She was commenting on the fact that she was consistently asked why she only had one child, as if having only one was an indication that something was wrong or that she and her partner couldn’t handle more.
It’s all about choice. More importantly, the choices we make do not always require an explanation unless we choose to offer one.
A few years back I wrote the following post. I chose to resurrect it today because her post resonated deeply with me.
I’m fairly active on Twitter. And the other day, someone I follow and respect greatly tweeted the following:
Gaining a whole new appreciation for child-free by choice types and those without kids. Society views these women so very differently.
Data released by the Pew Research Center in 2010 demonstrated that childlessness is increasing in the U.S., with roughly 1 in 5 women past childbearing years currently childless. Although the research points to “never married” as a factor, it also emphasizes the power of individual choice, employment opportunities and most importantly, a growing opinion that ’without child’ does not equate to ‘empty life.’
I am one of those women who are child-free by choice. I am a statistic. And my life is not empty.
“But aren’t you afraid you’ll regret it someday?”
“Don’t you feel badly that you didn’t give your parents grandchildren?”
“Do you understand what you are missing out on?”
Guess what? I’m going to share a little known fact with you.
I became pregnant at a time in my life when I felt I was too unsettled to properly care for a child. A time when I was with a partner with whom I didn’t feel comfortable sharing parenting responsibilities. A time that was simply the wrong time. Period. And after that? I certainly weighed the pros and cons of having children, many times. However, I ultimately decided that I was happier without having children of my own.
Shocking isn’t it?
My experience might resonate with some of you. Others might disapprove of my decision. At the end of the day? It truly is about personal choice, responsibility and a close, close look at oneself. Not everyone is suitable for parenthood.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
My life has been filled and surrounded by children for almost two decades now. I am an Aunt to three wonderful, amazing nephews and spending time with them brings me more pleasure than I can adequately express. I am also a surrogate Aunt to the children of an old friend, and although I don’t see them quite as often as I would like, I recently came to the realization that their presence, however sporadic, enriches my experience as a human being and as a woman in ways, again, for which there are no words.
Now that I’ve passed my fiftieth year, and two years after I first penned this, I still don’t feel as though the decision to leave the childbearing to other women is one that I regret or will ever regret. I made the decision based on timing, circumstance and a nagging feeling that I wasn’t meant to have a child, at least not in this lifetime, that I had a lot to offer the children in my life in ways that didn’t include being their parent.
So the next time you see a woman walking down the street without a child, or find a couple moving in next door without children, it’s probably best to assume that it’s best if all bets are off. There are many reasons why women don’t have children. And although being a mother is the defining moment for many women I know, I know just about as many who’ve chosen to remain childless and have experienced (and continue to experience) alternative defining moments in their womenhood, their lives and their spirits.
It’s all about choice. I’m grateful to have had the ability to decide what is right for me, to make choices based on that ability. Not every woman does.Read More
[Girl before a mirror. Pablo Picasso. Boisgeloup, March 1932]
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Or perhaps a better question is ‘who?’
I have noticed something odd, something that is sending me into a bit of a tizzy.
I feel older. And the reflection I see in the mirror is not something that I like very much.
It’s a bit of a shock, as I’ve always managed to keep the aging bug at bay. I’ve spent years exercising daily, eating right and engaging in strategies that are supposed to boost physical and emotional health and wellbeing.
Yet, something is missing. A piece of me.
I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about aging and the importance of seeing yourself from the inside out. I’ve discussed what it is like to become invisible in the workplace, how our bodies are redefining themselves, often without our help or intervention, and how old habits are starting to die hard, really hard. I’ve tried to empower you to take charge and accept, but not without going down with a fight against the more negative aspects of the aging process. I wonder where I’ve lost myself within this equation.
Anais Nin is quoted as writing that we don’t see things are they are, we see things are we are. But what happens when what we are, what we’ve become, is skewed by our changing vision? How do we navigate that path without the self-criticism and negative self talk, you know, that voices that we use to tell ourselves that we look old, that our face is sagging and the lines are growing deeper, that the cellulite is more defined, that our midsection appears to have added a bit of extra cushion? When is the appropriate time to rewind and erase the tape and create a new voice?
That time, at least for me, is now.
I apologize for the personal nature of this post, the rambling self indulgence; it’s likely that you are wondering what the heck I am talking about and why, after all, this blog is about evidence and information and data. But I realized this past weekend that the me in ‘menopause’ has somehow gotten lost in the Flashfree shuffle. And that when I actually take stock, I feel a bit long in the tooth.
I’d like to hear from you, dear sisters, about your favourite strategies for overcoming self doubt, for changing the mirror image, for turning off the voices and for freeing your body, mind and soul from the aging bug.
This week, I am turning myself over to you. And I want to hear from you.
Who do you see when you look in the mirror?
When was last time you thought to yourself, ‘I’m fat?’ How about ‘I’m old?’ Sound familiar?
If you are like most women, these words have likely crossed your mind at least once if not several times. And while we tend to pay lots of attention to the ‘fat talk’, less attention appears to be paid to how ‘old talk’ similarly impacts how women feel about themselves and perceive themselves. Not surprisingly, both are connected to the thin-ideal/young-ideal concept of beauty in Western society; just look at the number of products, drugs, and surgical procedures feared towards the preservation of youth and a youthful, wrinkle-free, cellulite-free appearance. As researcher Carolyn Beck writes in the Journal of Eating Disorders, “as women age, they increasingly move away not just from being thin but also from fulfilling the young element of the thin-young ideal. Accordingly, aging creates new opportunities for discrepancies between women’s bodies and cultural body ideals.”
Dissatisfaction with appearance and one’s body has been known to be correlated with binge eating, emotional eating, stress, low self-esteem, depression, and use of unhealthy weight control behaviors. When Dr. Beck and her colleagues set out to discover if fat talk and old talk had the same effect on body image, they found that among a sample of over 900 women, those who reported frequently talking about how fat they were or how old they were tended to have more negative body images. Importantly, an overwhelming majority of women — 81% — engaged in ‘fat talk’ at least occasionally and a full third reported frequently ‘fat talking.’ Their aging peers? At least 66% engaged in ‘old talk’ with friends and family occasionally, while 15% reported talking old more often. What’s more, the frequency of old talk tended to increase the older that women became.
Dr. Beck says that women’s self talk, be it about fat/thin or young/old, is an important public health issue as are the factors that play a role in causing, sustaining or deepening a women’s displeasure with her body. And while the two ideals are related, when women are young, the most salient aspect of self image is ‘thinness;’ conversely, as they age and enter midlife, both thinness and youth appear to be important. Overtime, thinness loses out to youthful.
When do we, as women, give ourselves a break? By buying into the thin-ideal/young-ideal constructs, we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to recreate our individual ideals, those that work best for ourselves. When 1,000 women between the ages of 18 and 87 agree that image plays such an important a role in how they view themselves, it should cause us to pause. We seem to be doing a lot of talking without saying or DOING much, other than to self-criticize, self-demoralize, self-dissatisfy, self-disconnect and self-sabotage. I would posit that it’s time to change the dialogue.