Summer's perils: the season has its share of dangers

Thursday, June 1, 2006
(Illustration by Diane L. Wilson)

The season has its share of dangers

Summertime events are in full swing, from barbecues to the opening of local swimming pools to hiking at Trail of Tears State Park. But some caution is needed during these activities.

Sun safety

The most obvious danger to look out is damage from the sun.

Dr. Erin Gardner, a dermatologic surgeon at Saint Francis Medical Center, said that because skin cancer is the most prominent kind of cancer, people should take precautions to prevent increased risks.

"One should protect oneself by applying sunscreen and monitor the amount of sun one gets," Gardner said. "Wearing a hat is a good idea."

Gardner also said to be wary of sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when ultraviolet exposure is greatest.

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When people think of ways to increase their risk of cancer, they probably wouldn't cite barbecue. But the American Cancer Society's Web site states that "some research suggests that cooking meats at very high temperatures creates chemicals (heterocyclic amines, or HAs) that might increase cancer risk."

Lea Ann Lambert, registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at Southeast Missouri Hospital, said the ACS outlines some easy guidelines to follow to decrease those risks. Some of these include not eating blackened and burnt meat, precooking meat in the microwave and marinating meat beforehand.

Cooking meat completely should be considered a priority as well to prevent the contraction of e. coli and salmonella bacteria.

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Insect-borne lllnesses

Another important element of summer safety is protection against insect illness, usually spread by tick and mosquito bites.

Dr. Theodore Grieshop, a specialist in infectious diseases at Southeast Missouri Hospital, said two of the most common tick diseases are Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, both of which may cause fever, headache and muscle aches.

"People who are out in wooded areas should do a complete check for ticks at the end of the day," Grieshop said. "And they should always be wearing some form of anti-mosquito and anti-tick repellent."

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