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04-06 Effects of the Sun

The Damaging Effects of the Sun
by Abi Hamrick and Dawn Weatherwax

Your skin is the largest organ of the body. However many people abuse this organ the most!

Did you know that skin cancer has been diagnosed in people as young as 20 years old? According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is on the rise. They estimate that there are at least as many cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year as all other cancers combined. That means that they expect more than 1 million diagnosed cases of skin cancer in 2006.

"Many clothes do not block out UV rays, so even wearing T-shirts may not be enough. This is especially true if they are wet or thin."

When thinking about skin cancer there are many important things to know: damage to the skin develops at the first contact with the sun, every exposure to the sun is damaging, clothing does not always completely block out sun rays, and early detection is the key.

Because damage to skin begins at childhood, it is very important to keep children covered and protected from the sun. Children who are raised with healthy sun protection methods are far more likely to continue them into their adult hood than those who are not.

Every sun exposure, not just when it is hot and the sun is beating down, can cause skin damage. Although clouds keep much of the sun's heat from reaching the earth, they block as little as 20% of the harmful UV radiation. If you plan to be outdoors when it is overcast, cover up and apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. Skin damage due to the sun's UV rays can even occur on the coldest days of the winter. This is especially when there is snow because highly reflective surfaces, bouncing back as much as 90% of the sun's rays upwards and sideways.

Many clothes do not block out UV rays, so even wearing T-shirts may not be enough. This is especially true if they are wet or thin. There are many clothing lines that are coming out now that provide special UV protection. These are essential for long days in the sun.

Self-examination is the key to early detection. "If you spot it, you can stop it," according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. By detecting the cancer early, chances of survival are greatly increased. Also, you should see your doctor every year to have a professional skin examination.

Okay, now, I know you are wondering, "How can I protect myself?" So here are some tips for year round sun protection:

  • Seek shade, especially when the sun's rays are the strongest (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.
  • Always use a broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen/sun block with and SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Buy water resistant sunscreen. This type of sunscreen does not block the pores so the body can cool off effectively.
  • Apply 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body every two hours.
  • Wear a hat that covers your face and the back of your neck and UV blocking clothing and sunglasses.
  • Be aware that perspiration makes the skin more sensitive and also can wear off sunscreen.
  • Drink lots of water to help prevent dehydration.
  • Consume foods high in vitamins C, E, and A, selenium and cartenoids. These nutrients are known as antioxidants to help stop the inflammation that often leads to cancer and collagen break down that occurs when harmful UV rays penetrate the skin.

Whitefish with Greek flavors
By: Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP, CMH
Questions for Rita? Email

I like to use the Feta cheese with basil and sun dried tomatoes from Kroger's for this recipe. It's so well seasoned and elevates a plain fish dish into something really tasty.

  • 4, 4 oz ea, white fish filets (Grouper can be used as well)
  • 2 teaspoons Greek seasoning
  • Cooking Spray
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 Italian tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled basil and tomato flavored Feta cheese

Sprinkle both sides of filets with seasoning. Film bottom of pan with spray. Place over medium heat and add fish, cook about 3-4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Turn fish over and top with spinach, tomato can cheese. Return to skillet to heat; cover and cook 3 minutes or so until spinach is hot and fish flakes easily. Serves 4.

**Note: I like to add more Feta, but if you're watching your fat, use amount stated above.

Honey & Almond Sundaes

Great for the kids!

Put 1/2 cup vanilla low fat or fat free frozen yogurt into 4 dessert dishes. Drizzle with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon or two of sliced slivered almonds.

To read more about why these recipes are good for you and get more information about Rita, visit our website at!


"I ended off the football season weighing in at about 189 lbs (no shirt, shoes, or shorts), and my diet was basically that of a normal high school male. What that means is when I was in a hurry, Taco Bell was my choice for food, or when I just wanted to eat something while watching TV, I grabbed an entire bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos and would finish them off."

"I always worked hard in the weight room, but I could never seem to gain any weight. Then, after meeting with Dawn and going over a diet that she designed for me, I immediately noticed results. I had more energy, and thus I could put more effort into lifting. Over time, my weight gradually increased, and not in fat either."

"My diet wasn't even that hard to follow, I actually loved the foods I ate. I could still eat steak, or even crab legs, and I even got 5 freebies a week. By the end of my 12-week program (I doubled-up with Dawn's diet and personal training), I had gained nearly 20 lbs of lean muscle, and I was faster, stronger, and more agile."

Grant Hunter
Football and Lacrosse

Current News

Speaking Engagements
Dawn Weatherwax will be speaking at the NATA regional conference at Virginia Beach on May 20th.

Dawn Weatherwax will be speaking in Philadelphia on "Eating on the Run" on May 17th.

Dawn Weatherwax will be speaking at two local high schools on May 22nd, and May 23rd on "Competitive Eating for Sports"

Dawn Weatherwax went down to Human Powered Racing in Columbus to perform Sodium Chloride Testing.

Dawn Weatherwax wrote an article for US Olympic Coach E-Magazine. Click here to read it!

Dawn Weatherwax wrote an article for Gatorade. Click here to read it!

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