Monday, March 1, 2010

Tanning in CNY: Too Hot to Handle?

February 2010

By Sara Sultanik / Good Medicine 

SYRACUSE N.Y. -- With the cold weather and lack of sun light in the winter months here in Central New York, you may like heading to the tanning bed.

But a new bipartisan bill, the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act could, if passed, change the way many people tan.  The bill would allow the government to set controls on the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the beds as well as set limits on the amount of time tanners can stay inside the machines.  

All of this to reduce to risks of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

A Triathlete’s Tale

Kelly Covert of Baldwinsville was only twenty-four when she was diagnosed with skin cancer and she stated she headed to the tanning beds a few times before she was diagnosed, “I dont think it was the only reason that i got skin cancer but it certainly did not help me at all and I would never do it again.”

Kelly is now an advocate for preventing young people from using tanning beds.  She does not want people to end up in the same position she was in.  She said, “You know the risks and they still do it which is shocking to me but i just people are going to make their own decisions but as long as they know what they’re up against...then that’s the choice that they have to make.”

Aren’t There Any Health Benefits to Tanning?

According to dermatologist Dr. Joyce Farah, this is not the case, “There are absolutely no health benefits to being in a tanning booth,” she said, “none that have been documented whatsoever.”

Dr. Farah claimed that even in cloudy cities such as Syracuse, 80 percent of the sun’s radiation still shines through so Central New Yorkers should still be getting a good amount of Vitamin D, even in the winter months.

But Isn’t Every Salon Different?

According to Joe Contini, owner of Hakuna Matata salon in Syracuse, his salon is different than most because his employees are certified under the International Smart Tan Network.

Contini said, “We need to put a little restrictions on tanning salons...people should be certified”

Contini claimed his salon will not allow individuals who are too fair skinned to tan at his salon.  

But Dominick Barbano of Garbo’s Salon in Syracuse said it is ultimately the tanner’s decision, “Act responsibly, do it in moderation, you’ll be fine.”

It is unknown at the time if the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act will be put into place.  But experts have said, even if less radiation is emitted by these machines, tanners may come into the tanning salons more often to get the same skin tone.  

Eating Healthy in Hard Times

By V. Michelle Bernard/Good Medicine

High produce prices are making it hard, but not impossible for New Yorkers to eat healthfully.

High Costs, Low Nutrition
It’s no secret that the recent economy has impacted every aspect of American life, including nutrition. Feeding America, a national network of 203 food banks, including several in Central New York, has said that one in eight Americans have needed help buying groceries this year. To add to the problem, produce prices have recently increased while prices for snack food seem to have gone down according to a recent American Dietetic Association study.

Although the high calorie snack options seem to offer a better deal, it is a better long-term deal to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, making the decision to eat healthfully even harder for low income Americans.

Balanced Budget & Checkbook Possible
Registered dietician Karen Ertel said there are many options for low income families to make sure they’re eating healthfully including using government subsidized programs and food banks for those who qualify.
Ertel, a dietician at the Syracuse Community Health Center, has noticed that a lot of people on strict budgets leave the vegetables out of their diet, but there are cheaper ways to get your servings of vegetables including canned and frozen vegetables.

Cutting down on the amount of meat eaten is another way to stretch the food budget, said Ertel.

“When you cut down on your meat portion sizes you actually do open a pretty good part of the budget to use for other things,” she said.
She also said eating staples such as rice and beans can add good nutrition, while keeping the budget low.

Reaching Out For Help
Jeanette Stanard is part of one of the many families from Central New York who are making their food dollars stretch by visiting the Food Bank of Central New York’s fresh food giveaways, like the one at the 1st Ukrainian Pentecostal Church in Camillus.

Stanard hasn’t been working since her daughter was born last summer. But going to giveaways, like the one in Camillus, has allowed her to provide more diverse and nutritious food to her family.

“The cost of living and the cost of food is outrageous,” said Stanard. “And going to pantries and fresh food giveaways, such as this, forces you to eat healthy. There’s normally fresh foods as well as baked products, milk, cheese, a lot of real healthy ingredients,” she said.

Last year alone, more than 2.1 million New Yorkers, such as Stanard, were served by food banks.


Not everyone can qualify to visit food banks, but that isn’t an excuse not to eat vegetables and fruit.

Eat healthfully on a budget by following these tips from registered dietician Karen Ertel:

• It’s OK to buy frozen vegetables and some canned vegetables. They provide almost as many nutrients as the fresh.
• Try to buy in-season and locally grown produce
• Buy and eat less meat
• Replace soda with water or sugar free drinks
• Buy cheap, yet healthy staples such as rice and beans

For more tips on eating healthfully on a budget click here.