8 – 14 May 2017: Sun Awareness Week

It’s Sun Awareness Week in Britain!

A picture of the sunset I caught on the way home from school one day…
Stunning sunset at the Docklands in Melbourne!

Okay, I’m pretty sure everyone in the world is aware that there is a star really close to the Earth that we call the Sun, and that it keeps the Earth warm and lighted up in the day. Sun Awareness Week is a rather misleading term because it isn’t just about being aware of the sun. It’s about being aware of how harmful the sun’s UV rays can be.

Sure, we often talk about how being out in the sun is good because of Vitamin D and its benefits. But prolonged exposure to UV radiation can have extremely debilitative effects, beyond just sunburn and premature skin ageing. If serious, it can also cause sunburn and cataracts.

  • According to WHO estimates, 20% of the annual 12 to 15 million people who become blind from cataracts may be caused or enhanced by sun exposure.
  • An estimated 66,000 deaths occur annually from melanoma and other skin cancers.
  • Ongoing studies also suggest that UV exposure can suppress immune system responses, making us more prone to infectious diseases and limiting the efficacy of vaccinations.

These problems are increasingly worsened due to the depletion of the ozone layer.

We often think that dark-skinned people do not need to be concerned about these risks, but while it is true that darker skin has more melanin and hence a lower chance of skin cancer, the risk is still there. In fact, not only does skin cancer also affect darker skinned people, it is also often only detected at later, more dangerous stages.

So what can we do to help ourselves? Here are some ways:

  • Protective clothing, such as caps, specially designed sun-protective clothing which prevents penetration of UV rays (Uniqlo sells a lot of these!), and sun-protective umbrellas (some umbrellas still let UV rays through!)
  • Sunscreen which absorbs both UVA and UVB and an SPF of at least 15
  • Try to reduce tanning and even the use of tanning devices like sunbeds. Even though they claim to tan safely, there is still some risk behind them.
  • Eat food high in anti-oxidants, such as Goji berries, wild blueberries, cranberries, pecans, artichokes, even dark chocolate.
  • Protect your eyes with proper sunglasses! Don’t buy cheap imitations or low quality sunglasses. While they allow you to see into the sun without squinting, they are pretty much useless in blocking UV radiation. This makes things even worse than having no sunglasses because without squinting, your eye is exposed to even more UV radiation!

Hope everyone will spread the message about the harms of UV radiation and encourage your family and friends to step up their sun protection!


Depression – World Health Day 2017

Hey guys! I want to use my blog to spread word about something else other than books and reading, so I decided I’d keep a look out for global awareness days and post more information about them on the day itself. The objective of this is to not only spread awareness about these causes, but also to learn more about the subjects myself.

The 7th April of every year is World Health Day, a global health awareness day sponsored by World Health Organisation. This year’s theme for World Health Day is Depression.

Here are some facts about depression that really highlight the need to spread awareness about this issue:

  • In many countries of the world, there is no, or very little, support available for people with mental health disorders. Even in high-income countries, nearly 50% of people with depression do not get treatment.
  • On average, it takes a person suffering with a mental illness more than 10 years to ask for help.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle in tackling depression and mental health issues is the stigma associated with them. Those who have never experienced depression will never understand it, yet we often use the words “feeling depressed” as if our temporary feelings of sadness are synonymous with clinical depression. It’s easy to tell them to “get over it” and to “think positively”, that they’re just being overdramatic. It’s easy for us who haven’t experienced it to say that depression isn’t an actual medical condition. But that’s only going to make things worse for them, because they’ll feel guilty and ashamed even though really it’s not their fault. So I think the most important thing for us to do when we have a loved one suffering from depression is to support them, without judgement. Encourage them to talk about what they’re feeling, and be patient with them. Do activities with them, encourage them to see a therapist… A support system is probably one of the most important things for recovery from depression.

And if you’re suffering from depression, please don’t be afraid to speak to someone about it!

Here are a few videos and links about depression that I found pretty informative:

World Health Organisation campaign page