skin cancers

  1. Kids skip sunscreen

    It's hard to think of sunburn when you're battling sub-zero February temperatures every day -- but summer will be here soon enough.

    And when it arrives, you can bet that two things will happen: You'll hear a lot of mainstream noise about the supposed importance of wearing sunblock... and kids will get sunburned anyway.

    Now, that same mainstream is in a tizzy over a small survey that shows kids aren't interested in wearing sunscreen -- and that as they grow up, they simply stop putting it on.

    Take that, mom!

    The survey of 360 kids found that half of them used the stuff regularly when they were in fifth grade -- and half of them got sunburned at least once during the summer.

    Three years later, the number of kids using sunscreen fell dramatically: By the time the kids reached eighth grade, only 25 percent of them reported using sunscreen regularly -- despite reporting even more time out in the sun.

    More time in the sun, less sunscreen -- the mainstream coverage of this ends pretty much there. And naturally, they're all screaming for these kids to put on their sunscreen.

    But here's the "rest of the story" -- the part you couldn't hear over those screams: In eighth grade, the number of kids reporting at least one sunburn didn't change. It was still 50 percent.

    Maybe sunscreen isn't all it's cracked up to be after all.

    And it's not just that these chemical goos don't work nearly as well as their backers claim. In fact, many of them are actually far more dangerous than a summer full of sunburns.

    Common sunscreens contain well-known hormone-disrupting chemicals such as oxybenzone. Until recently, many sunscreens -- including some of the best-selling brands -- contained a form of vitamin A that could actually speed the growth of skin tumors.

    In other words, the very chemicals that were supposed to protect people from sunburn and, eventually, skin cancers can actually cause the disease and speed its progression.

    That's why the best defense against sunburn isn't a layer of dangerous chemicals. It's common sense: Get some sun at every age, because it's the best (and cheapest) way to get your vitamin D.

    And when you've had enough, cover up -- or at least seek shade or head inside before you get burned.

    Some kids will of course get burned anyway. So be it -- at least they're outside, where they belong, and not parked on the sofa.

  2. TSA refuses new study on airport scanners

    It's outright insane if you stop to think about it: In order to "protect" air passengers, the U.S. government is blasting them all with dangerous levels of radiation from full-body X-ray scanners.

    Not exactly how I like my "protection" -- especially since the feds won't provide any honest-to-goodness safety data on these machines.

    It seemed like we were finally getting somewhere earlier this year when the TSA told Sen. Susan Collins it would authorize an independent safety study. You'd think they would have done that before they installed these machines at every airport -- but better late than never, right?

    Well, it might be "never" after all -- because TSA administrator John Pistole recently told Congress that the study is off.

    The question has to be asked: What are they so afraid of?

    I think it's pretty obvious: Radiation exposure -- even the small amounts used in these machines -- can cause DNA damage and cellular changes. Over time, that can lead to cancer.

    These machines use backscatter radiation, which goes beneath the clothes and concentrates on the skin itself -- so TSA agents can view a "naked" picture of you and see what you might be hiding without having to look at your bones, liver, guts, etc.

    But since that radiation focuses on the skin, it can build up there and boost the risk of skin cancers, especially among those most often exposed, like regular air travelers.

    And who knows what kind of risks these machines will pose to pregnant women, children, and infants.

    One expert says he thinks X-ray scanners will cause 100 cancer cases each year -- and while that may sound like a small number, why put even a single life on the line in the name of security?

    Even if you agree that the government should get a look at everyone's naked body before boarding an airplane -- and I don't -- there are machines that can do it without using a drop of radiation.

    The feds even have the machines, and are using them in some airports -- but they insist on using the X-ray machines right along with them.

    Even Europe has said they'll only use the radiation-free machines -- and they've actually banned the X-ray scanners from their airports until they see some actual scientific data proving they're safe.

    I hope they're not holding their breath.

  3. Vitamin D can protect against cancer

    I just told you how the sunshine vitamin can help keep pre-diabetes from turning into the real thing -- and now, a new study finds it might stop melanomas cold.

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