Click inside for the weekly health rail, with items on preventing sun damage, tips for treating acid reflux, how to avoid heat stress in children, and more. Or check out the links below:


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It’s summer, and outdoor activities dominate this time of year. Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays is a key part of being able to enjoy your summer.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. Most skin cancer appears after age 50, but damage from the sun starts much earlier.

Anyone can get skin cancer, but the risk is greatest for people with white or light-colored skin with freckles; blond or red hair; blue or green eyes.

What you can do

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun:

- Stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when it is the strongest.

- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Make sure your sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Put it on 30 minutes before you go out in the sun, and remember to cover every part of your body, including your lips, hands, ears, back of your neck and the top of your head.

Even if the bottle says it's waterproof or sweatproof, you should reapply. Put more sunscreen on every couple of hours or right after swimming, working up a sweat or rubbing on your skin with a towel or clothes.

- Cover up with long sleeves and a hat.

- Wear wrap–around sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Check your skin

Examine your whole body once a month. Pick a day and mark it on your calendar so you don't forget. Learn where your birthmarks, blemishes, and moles are and what they usually look and feel like.

Check the growths on your skin for changes in size, shape, color or feel, and check for anything new – a sore that doesn't heal, a mole that bleeds, or any new growths.

If you find any changes, see a doctor. Most growths are harmless. But only a doctor or nurse can tell you for sure.

Stay beautiful

Staying out of the sun and using sunscreen can also help prevent:

- Wrinkles.

- Blotchy or spotty skin.

- Other damage caused by the sun.

-- www.healthfinder.gov

In the News: Rate of female binge drinkers increases

New research has found that although binge drinking is down among young people overall, it remains a problem on college campuses.

Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on a given occasion. In 2006, the last year for which the data were analyzed, more than half of college-age males, and almost 40 percent of college-age females, reported binge drinking.

Rates declined more than 20 percent in males aged 18 to 20 and 10 percent in males aged 21 to 23. In women ages 15 to 20 on the other hand, binge drinking was statistically unchanged since 1979. For women 21 to 23, binge drinking rose by about 40 percent.

-- Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Did You Know?

U.S. News & World Report named Children's Hospital of Philadelphia the best children's hospital in the country for cancer treatment in its 2009 rankings.

Health Tip: Treat acid reflux

For many people, heartburn only happens once in a while. But for others, it is frequent and persistent, and may actually be a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux disease.

Changes that can reduce or prevent GERD symptoms include:

- Avoiding foods that may trigger acid reflux.

- Avoiding eating within three hours of bedtime

- Losing excess weight.

- Avoid wearing tight clothes and tight belts.

- Elevating the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches

- Trying an over-the-counter treatment, such as acid reducers or antacids. If those aren't providing enough relief, you may want to talk to your doctor about a prescription proton pump inhibitor. PPIs are designed to stop the production of acid in the stomach so that it doesn't flow into the esophagus.

-- ARA

Number to Know: 85

Percentage of Americans who said it was important to have a choice of insurance companies and the ability to change health plans, according to a survey of more than 900 people by Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

Children’s Health: Avoid heat stress in active children

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips for parents of kids involved in summer sports or exercise:

- The intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat and humidity reach critical levels.

- Before prolonged physical activity, the child should be well-hydrated. During the activity, periodic drinking should be enforced. For example, each 20 minutes, 5 ounces of cold tap water or sports drink for a child weighing 90 pounds; and 9 ounces for an adolescent weighing 130 pounds, even if the child does not feel thirsty.

- Clothing should be light-colored and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat. Sweat-saturated shirts should be replaced by dry clothing.

- Practices and games played in the heat should be shortened and more frequent water/hydration breaks should be instituted.

Senior Health: Statins don't lower pneumonia risk

Taking popular cholesterol-lowering statin drugs does not lower the risk of pneumonia, according to a study published the British Medical Journal.

There was some hope that statins could help prevent certain infections. But the study, which involved 65- to 94-year-olds with intact immune systems, found that pneumonia risk was, if anything, slightly higher in people using a statin than in those not using any.

Researchers emphasized that statins work well for what they were designed to do, such as lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease and stroke.

GateHouse News Service