Thursday, July 20, 2006
Parents should set example of kindness toward others

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital,
Medical director

I have often referred to the role that parents play in setting the example for their children. One of the key areas to do that is in showing how we treat others. In the play "The Will Rogers Follies," there is a song titled, "Never met a man I didn't like." In that song, Will Rogers talks about his philosophy. That philosophy includes things like putting yourself in someone else's shoes. It talks about setting reasonable expectations for others. It talks about not creating stereotypes. We need to ask ourselves what example we set for our children. Is our attitude one of an eye for an eye? Is it one of turning the other cheek? For most of us, it is a mix. Sometimes we behave one way. Sometimes we behave another. Our children pick up the language that they hear us use. They pick up our approach to others as well. Prejudice is a learned behavior. There is currently a play on Broadway titled "Avenue Q." One of the songs from that play is titled "Everyone's a little bit racist." The moral to the song is that we all create stereotypes. When we do, we insult others because of that. In the song, the individuals realize that they are not pure racists. However, they all have those kinds of stereotypes. The ones they refer to in the song are things like ethnic jokes. They are things like people who do not speak English very well. They are things like people who dress in dirty clothes and don't bathe. The point they make is that when you meet someone that falls into one of your stereotypes, you make multiple assumptions based upon that. Some of those assumptions may be true. Some may not. Those that are true for some people may not be true for others. When we act on those assumptions, we are acting in a racist fashion toward that individual. Our children watch that behavior. Our children learn that behavior. Our children begin to act the same as we do. Or in the case of rebellious children, they start to behave like the individuals we do not like. That is their way of negatively responding to us. Each of us needs to recognize the kinds of stereotypes we have set up. We need to recognize that our children watch our actions in those situations. We need to realize that we want our children to be kind to everyone no matter what their background. That puts a lot of pressure on us as parents. We will not know how successful we do that until they are grown. Hopefully, when they are, we can look to them with pride knowing that we have taught them well.

Peninsula Regional to sponsor evening classes for diabetics
Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Salisbury, Md., is sponsoring a Wednesday-evening diabetes education class session during August and September to discuss nutrition, foot care, glucose monitoring, exercise and other self-management skills to help assist with diabetes control. The evening class session will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. beginning Aug. 16, and ending Sept. 13. Class will meet once weekly for five consecutive Wednesdays. A nurse and a registered dietitian, who are both certified diabetes instructors, will teach all classes. There is a registration fee and pre-registration is required because class size is limited. For more information or to register, call the Peninsula Regional Diabetes Outpatient Education Program at 410-543-7061.

Survey finds that Delawareans are being screened for cancer
Delaware's rate of improvement for cancer mortality now leads the country, with a drop of more than 12 deaths per 100,000 statewide from 1980-2003. Colorectal cancer incidence in Delaware also decreased significantly, from 64.1 per 100,000 from 1990-1994 to 56.7 per 100,000 from 1999-2003. The number of Delawareans age 50 and older receiving screening for colorectal cancer is on the rise. Data from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey indicate significant gains in preventing and identifying cancer. According to the survey, 75 percent of Delawareans age 50 and older had undergone colorectal screening at least once. There was a 61.6 percent increase in the number of African -Americans who reported ever having a colorectal cancer screening, from 39.6 percent in 1999 to 64 percent in 2005. It is encouraging to note that 42 percent of African Americans who reported ever having had a colonoscopy had done so within the last year. Caucasians who received screening also increased from 45.3 percent in 1999 to 69.3 percent in 2005. Additionally, 90 percent of those who had not undergone a colonoscopy were aware of the test. "This is great news that demonstrates that we are headed in the right direction," said Bill Bowser, chairman of the Delaware Cancer Consortium. "Knowing that the situation is improving makes us more determined to reduce the cancer burden in Delaware." Such improvement can be attributed to coordinated planning to increase cancer screening, early detection and treatment. The Delaware Division of Public Health's Screening for Life Program expanded its services to include colorectal cancer screening services – and reimbursed medical providers for 313 colonoscopies in 2005. A comprehensive media campaign known as Get Tested blanketed the state to increase colon screening awareness among Delawareans. And, to help people pay for cancer treatment they otherwise could not afford, Delaware implemented the Delaware Cancer Treatment Program. Delaware is the first state in the nation to implement such a program. Other activities include Champions of Change, to promote colon cancer testing among African-American Delawareans. In the last two months, 10 community-based organizations have scheduled 225 people for cancer screenings. In the statewide Colorectal Cancer Screening Coordination Program, nurse coordinators and patient advocates identify at-risk community members for screening, provide health education, and help people navigate the health care system, working to get them tested for colon cancer regardless of their insurance status.

Sunscreen one of several tools to prevent skin cancer
In addition to protecting against sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer, daily use of sunscreen can reduce the number of sunspots (or precancers) and may even help existing sunspots disappear. An Australian researcher uncovered that daily use of SPF 15 may decrease the risk of skin cancer in the long run. This study is especially significant in a time when there is so much controversy and confusion about sunscreen and skin cancer rates are at epidemic levels, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. "These findings have very positive implications and have gone largely unreported," said Robin Marks, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne. "It means that cancer is not inevitable, even though you may have gone down the pathway toward cancer in some tissue, sufficient for it to become clinically apparent in the form of a [pre-cancer]." The goal of the study was to determine the effect of sunscreens on precancers or actinic keratosis (AKs) and can be likened to smoking research which showed how the body can heal itself after smoking cessation. By removing or reducing the carcinogen, i.e. cutting down sunlight exposure, the force pushing the keratinocyte toward skin cancer is reduced. It is a very important factor in giving people hope, even though they may have been exposing their skin to excessive sunlight for many years. This study is very reassuring, the foundation said, in that it confirms the notion that regular sunscreen use can decrease the risk of skin cancer. However, in order to be truly effective, sunscreens must be used as an adjunct to other sound sun protective practices in order for to see a reduction in the incidence and mortality rates of skin cancer. Those practices include:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or toweling off.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your doctor every year for a professional skin exam.
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global nonprofit organization solely devoted to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer.

Groups to kick off year of AIDS walks
Friday, July 21, 9 a.m., AIDS Delaware, the Delaware HIV Consortium and Bristol-Myers Squibb will have a kick-off event to celebrate the 20th Year of AIDS Walk Delaware at the Riverfront Theatre, 2 South Walnut St., in Milford. Participants will be able to register for the walks. For reservations, call (302) 652-6776. For more information on AIDS Walk Delaware visit