Pointers from protecting feet from skin cancer

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) - Walking on the beach, frolicking in the surf, participating in sports, strolling through a theme park while on vacation — your feet will carry you through a lot of fun this summer. But can paying attention to them help you avoid the most common form of cancer in America? Possibly, experts say.

Each year, more than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Yet only 32 percent of Americans use sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays, NCI says in its Cancer Trends Progress Report.  Even when sunscreen is applied, the feet are often neglected.

“While skin cancers typically appear on areas of sun-exposed skin like the face, arms and hands, they can also occur on areas that get much less sun, such as the feet,” says Dr. Joseph Caporusso, a podiatrist and president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “With flip-flops and sandals being common summer foot attire, more Americans than ever are exposing their feet to the sun’s potential harmful rays.”

Sun exposure, however, isn’t the whole story when it comes to skin cancers on the feet. More often, skin cancers of the feet can be linked to exposure to viruses or chemicals, chronic inflammation or irritation, or even inherited traits, according to APMA.

“Unfortunately, the skin on our feet is often overlooked during routine medical checkups,” Caporusso notes. “Yet, foot health can be an indicator of overall health. It’s important for everyone to have their feet checked regularly by today’s podiatrist for any signs or symptoms of skin cancer.”

APMA offers a few tips for protecting your feet this summer:

• Apply the same broad-spectrum sunscreen you use on the rest of your body to your feet, including the tops, on and between the toes, and even the soles of your feet. Reapply every two hours when you’re out in the sun and more frequently if you spend a lot of time in and out of the water.

• Conduct regular self exams of your feet. Look for signs of problems, such as cracking or sores. Keep in mind that freckles and moles on the soles of the feet are very unusual and may be a sign you should see a podiatrist.

• Be aware of the warning signs for malignant melanoma - the most deadly type of skin cancer. This type of cancer may occur on the skin of the feet and on occasion, beneath a toenail. Learn the ABCDEs of melanoma: asymmetrical lesions, border irregularity, color variation, diameter larger than a pencil eraser,and evolving characteristics of any of the ABCD traits. If you notice a mole, freckle or lesion with any of these characteristics, have your health care provider take a look.

• Skin cancer of the feet can easily be mistaken for other, less serious problems. For example squamous cell carcinomas, the second-most-common type of skin cancer, may resemble a plantar wart, fungal infection, eczema, an ulcer or other common dermatological condition.

• Skin cancers in the lower legs, ankles and feet may look very different from those that occur in the rest of the body. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat lower extremities, so their knowledge and training can help patients detect both benign and malignant skin tumors early.

To learn more and find a podiatrist in your area, log on to

Summer health: stop frequent heartburn

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) – Summer is here, which means it’s time to pack your bags for vacation, dust off your beach umbrella and fire up the grill. Unfortunately many people will not only feel the summer heat outside with friends, but also inside their chest. Summer is prime time for heartburn.

Barbecue season is the time of the year when people experience frequent heartburn symptoms the most, according to a recent survey by Wakefield Research for P&G, which brings you Prilosec OTC(R). The survey revealed that many frequent heartburn sufferers –those who experience heartburn two or more days per week – are not treating symptoms as effectively as possible, and there is a general lack of understanding about heartburn and available treatments.

One of the top misconceptions is that all over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn treatments are the same. Although frequent heartburn symptoms can be reduced with antacids or H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors are indicated specifically for frequent heartburn. There are important differences among the available therapies:

• Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) treat frequent heartburn by shutting down many of the acid pumps in the stomach and stopping symptoms before they start. Effects can last 24 hours.

•  Histamine2 (H2) blockers partially block production of acid in the stomach. The effect of H2 blockers generally lasts six to 12 hours.

• Antacids neutralize existing stomach acid and provide relatively rapid but short-term relief of heartburn symptoms lasting one to three hours.

Two myths many believe are that drinking milk can help relieve symptoms and that weight gain has no impact on frequent heartburn. In actuality, a glass of milk increases one’s acid production (like any food) and maintaining a healthy weight is one key to treating heartburn.

Dr. Su Sachar, gastroenterologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, says that sufferers do not have to accept frequent heartburn as “normal.”

“One way to treat frequent heartburn is to take a medication that can help block the acid that causes heartburn, so you don’t get it in the first place,” Dr. Sachar observed. “It’s possible that, while taking just one pill a day as directed, a 14-day course of Prilosec OTC can control, and in many cases, eliminate frequent heartburn symptoms. Prilosec OTC may take one to four days for full effect and should not be taken for more than 14 days or more often than every four months unless directed by a doctor. It is not intended for immediate relief.”

People can take measures to avoid heartburn symptoms this summer. Dr. Sachar offers the following tips for those suffering from frequent heartburn:

• Get educated. One of the best defenses is to arm yourself with information. With all the over-the-counter medications available, my patients are often overwhelmed and don’t know what is right for them. Additionally, people often fall prey to the common myth that experiencing symptoms daily is normal, without realizing there are treatments available. The more you know about frequent heartburn, the better you will be able to treat it.

• Talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you. Dr. Sachar recommends over-the-counter PPIs, like Prilosec OTC because it’s possible with just one pill a day to block the acid and stop heartburn before it starts for a full 24 hours of zero heartburn. It’s possible while taking Prilosec OTC. Use as directed for 14 days to treat frequent heartburn. Do not take for more than 14 days or more often than every four months unless directed by a doctor. Not for immediate relief.

• Quit smoking. Smoking relaxes the valve at the top of your stomach, allowing excess stomach acid to reflux into your esophagus.

For more information on how to best manage your frequent heartburn or to see if you qualify for a free sample, visit

New research shows health benefits of salt

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) – In a recent New York Times article, award- winning science journalist Gary Taubes describes the considerable efforts and expenditures made by government public health agencies to support and promote salt restriction, despite clinical evidence which does not support population-wide salt reduction strategies.

According to Taubes, a flood of new research published in the last two years has not only shown the health benefits of salt but also revealed the risks of low-sodium diets.

“There was no disputing that salt is a natural, no-calorie and tasty nutrient essential for life, but the biggest nutrition story in recent years is the proof that following the government’s low salt advice could actually shorten your life,” says Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute.

Within the past year, peer-reviewed medical studies have documented:

• Type 1 diabetes risk: In one Australian study on patients with type 1 diabetes, low sodium intake was independently associated with increased all-cause mortality and ESRD (end-stage renal disease).

• Type 2 diabetes risk: In another Australian study with type 2 diabetes patients, lower sodium consumption was associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

•  No cardiovascular benefit to salt reduction: A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that eating less salt will not prevent heart attacks, strokes or early death. On the contrary, low-sodium diets increased the likelihood of premature death.

• Increased risk of illness and death: The Journal of the American Medical Association published a multi-year study on a very large cohort that concluded that lower salt intakes resulted in higher morbidity and mortality.

• Negative effects of low-salt intakes: An analysis of 167 studies showed that individuals placed on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines – recommended salt levels experienced significant increases in plasma renin, aldosterone, adrenaline, noradrenalin, cholesterol and triglycerides – all risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

• Health risk of current U.S. Dietary Guidelines: In a Journal of the American Medical Association publication, an analysis of the association between sodium intakes and cardiovascular events in almost 29,000 adults, showed that CV risk was increased among those with the lowest levels, equivalent to the current recommendations in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

• Nutritional risk of current U.S. Dietary Guidelines: The American Journal of Preventative Medicine published an article demonstrating that following the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for salt will result in unbalanced and unsustainable dietary choices.

• It is well documented that the Japanese and the Swiss enjoy among the longest life expectancy rates of any of the world’s population groups. Less known however, is that they are also among the highest rates of salt consumption. Comparing the available data on salt consumption and longevity around the world indicates that if we were to actually consume the low levels of salt recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, our life expectancy figures would drop dramatically.

Taubes is far from the only journalist to have questioned the government’s policy on salt. Scientific American reviewed the studies and summarized its findings in the headline, “It’s time to end the war on salt.”

Five steps to impact community health positively through education

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) – Health education is a rewarding career for many. You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to become involved. It takes professionals in accounting, research, law and administration – as well as individuals who enjoy working with people – all collaborating to improve the well-being of others.

Why care about community health?

Several reasons, according to the Association of Schools of Public Health’s website, What is Public Health?, are: the importance of improving access to health care, controlling infectious disease and reducing substance abuse.

There may be no better example of a dedicated public health professional than Dr. Mine S. Seniye, chair of the Allied Health department at Brown Mackie College - Albuquerque.

She has traveled the world preparing students and health care professionals to care for underserved populations. Here, she outlines five steps to implement a successful health program.

Step one. Assess the community

Whether you want to enhance community health in a Bosnian village or an inner city neighborhood, it is important first to understand the community as a whole. Who lives there? Where are they from? What are their current health practices? “This can’t be done long distance,” says Dr. Seniye. “You can’t just barge into a community and ask ‘What do you eat?’ You must take part in the society and let them accept you as a person.”

Step two. Community organization

Collaboration with community leaders is essential to any successful health program.

“It is important to identify leaders and stakeholders in the community to recruit to the team,” says Dr. Seniye. The Minnesota Department of Health suggests looking for those who are in a position of power, or have already made decisions on previous community issues, and those who actively volunteer.

Collaborators from the community help you understand the inner workings of the society.

Step three. Create and implement the program

When approaching any community to help, it is important to speak in terms of what they already have, and adding to it.

“Rather than telling them you want to fix something or change the way they do things, you must communicate that you are here to enhance what they already have,” Dr. Seniye says. “Suggest what may be lacking, and integrate a solution into a program already familiar to them.”

Step four. Assess the program

An advisory group formed at the outset can be invaluable to assessing the progress of your efforts.

“Keep the team involved. I always share small successes with the group – the number of patients, where they were treated. I see the grassroots community advisors as gatekeepers,” she says. “They keep us on track.”

Step five. Maintain the effort

Eventually others come in to carry on. They must be prepared to be effective in that community. “This takes a competency that many don’t have. They must be chosen carefully,” says Dr. Seniye. “I find that as I get to know people of other cultures, and students who want to engage, I also get to know myself better. It is a growth process. Students teach me something every day.

“All the knowledge, resources, and ideas won’t help without fitting into the culture you want to improve,” adds Dr. Seniye.

Whether diversity occurs among the people staffing the program, or the people they serve, it is important to develop an understanding of others. Respect for their culture, beliefs, and ways of interacting is critical for success.

Women: Life-changing tips for better health and energy

  • Written by ARA

Moms, career women, singles enjoying life with close friends and family, and even women approaching their retirement years – women at every life stage can benefit from adding simple activities to improve their happiness and health. Activities can range from enjoying a delicious breakfast to incorporating a cardiovascular workout to limbering up and stretching those muscles.

In honor of National Women’s Health Week, May 13 to 19, consider incorporating a new element to your day to enrich your lifestyle, improve your digestive health and give you energy to tackle the rest of your day. Need some ideas? Try one of these options:

• Flexible body –Healthy stretching can improve flexibility, and help reduce joint or muscle pain. Target core muscles in the legs – such as hips, thighs and calves – and in the upper torso including the lower back, neck and shoulders. While stretching, don’t bounce, or push the stretch past the point of pain. Gently hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.

• Fun workouts – Exercise can be a very negative word for some women, but there are several ways to enjoy a physical workout. Like to dance? Sign up for an adult jazz, ballroom dance or even Zumba class. Don’t like to sweat? Take your workout to the pool with some water aerobics. Bored? Bring a friend or family member with you for some exercise like a bike ride, inline skating, a walk or maybe even a yoga class.

• Breakfast treats – What you consume at the beginning of the day can determine how the rest of your day goes. Getting good amounts of fiber and protein through fruits and dairy products is a great way to target heart health, and maintain high energy levels throughout the day. Enjoy a fruit smoothie at the start of your day, and add some Sunsweet Prune Juice, a good source of six vitamins and minerals naturally found in California-grown prunes. This all natural, high quality juice is a great way to introduce more fiber, potassium and magnesium into your diet. Try this smoothie recipe to kick start your day:

Sweet and Sassy Smoothie


1/4 cup plain or vanilla low fat yogurt

1/2 cup Sunsweet Prune Juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 medium banana, peeled

• For an extra boost of protein, add 1/4 egg substitute or 2 tablespoons protein powder

3 ice cubes


In a blender container, combine all ingredients except the ice cubes. Cover and blend until smooth. Add ice cubes, cover and blend until ice is chopped.

• Me time – The constant on-the-go of children, careers, spouses and thousands of activities can wear a woman down. Add a little “me time” into the daily schedule. Try setting the alarm 10 minutes earlier for stretching before tackling the day. Over the lunch hour, take a walk to a local park in nice weather, or call your best friend for a quick catch-up. Or take the time before bedtime to paint your toenails or read a novel. Consider adding a half-hour of uninterrupted time for an at-home spa treatment. This “me time” is very important for a female’s mental and emotional well-being, and should cater to her specific indulgences.

Adding a new healthy living event on a daily basis should be a goal for every woman to boost her health, her energy levels and even emotions. For additional general health tips, recipes and information from dietitians, purchase two Sunsweet Juice products and receive a free Healthy Mornings Guide. Visit to learn more.