Campaign Helps Hispanics Enjoy a Healthy Summer

Free helpline will answer questions about summer safety

WEDNESDAY, June 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Summertime means fun in the sun, but it also means staying safe from UV rays and dehydration in the hot months, too.

To help get that message out to Hispanic Americans, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health is marking June 21 -- the first day of summer -- as the launch of their new safe summer campaign.

"Two of the most important health issues facing the Hispanic community during the summer months are protection from the sun (including adequate use of sunblock) as well as drinking enough water whether they are at work or at play," Dr. Jane L. Delgado, president and CEO of the alliance, said in a prepared statement. "These two issues sound so simple, but millions in our community are unaware of the life-saving importance of these simple steps to prevent skin cancer and heat stroke."

Skin cancer may be an especially hidden danger for Hispanics, since it is often detected later and in a more advanced stage than in whites. In a study released this week in Archives of Dermatology, researchers from the University of Miami found that 16 percent of Hispanics came to their doctors with melanomas that had already metastasized -- spread to other organs or tissues -- compared with 9 percent of whites. Twenty-six percent of Hispanic patients had regional or distant-stage melanoma, the most severe stages, compared to 16 percent of white patients.

Why the disparity? Study lead author Dr. Robert Kirsner said it's likely that "there is less awareness among patients and health-care providers that melanoma can occur in ethnic populations and patients with darker pigmentation."

The alliance's "Mobile Summer Hispanic Health Campaign" hopes to change that. Organizers have established a national, toll-free bilingual hotline that is available every Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., EST. People with questions about summer sun protection, skin cancer or other topics can call 1-866-SU-FAMILIA and receive free, confidential advice from health information specialists. Representatives of the hotline can refer callers to local health care providers or even provide them with reading materials on topics relating to their questions.

More information

Check out the National Alliance for Hispanic Health Web site to find out more about the Mobile Summer Hispanic Health Campaign.

SOURCES: The National Alliance for Hispanic Health, news release, June 21, 2006
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