Friday, June 15, 2018

Staying Sun-Safe

With the first day of summer this week, it’s time to review the risks that come from sun exposure.  Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year, which equates to a cost of over $8 billion.
While skin cancer can also be caused from tanning beds or sun lamps, the most common cause is cumulative exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, says Erica Reyes, a health specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “Increased exposure can often lead to the deadliest type of skin cancer known as Melanoma, taking the lives of more than 9,000 people each year.”
Skin cancer forms in many shapes in sizes, so staying actively aware of new spots or irregular moles on your skin is necessary for your health. Most doctors recommend checking your own skin at least once a month. If you happen to notice any new or irregular spots, be sure to tell your personal physician at your next check-up and request to see a dermatologist if necessary.
When self-checking to see if a spot is Melanoma, Reyes recommends using the “ABCDE” rule from the American Cancer Society:

·         A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
·         B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
·         C is for Color: The color is not the same all over.
·         D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across.
·         E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape or color.

Regardless of what skin tone you have, anyone can get skin cancer. The good news is that most skin cancers can be prevented. However, it is up to you to make sure you are taking precautionary measures when spending time out in the sun. The Center for Disease Control recommends using a layered approach for sun protection. Here are some easy steps to follow when planning to spend time outdoors:

·         1.  Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
·         2.  Wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing to shield skin.
·         3.  Use broad spectrum sunscreen with at least 15 SPF to protect exposed skin.
·         4.  Re-apply sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Being outdoors is a great way for you to stay active, combat stress or enjoy fun activities with family and friends. Just remember while doing these things, it is important to stay sun- safe and protect the skin you’re in. For additional information contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Wise County office at 940-627-3341.

Salmonella - A Summertime Bug You Don’t Want!

Don’t get bugged by a foodborne illness this summer. Did you know that foodborne food illnesses increase during summer months? It's true, diseases caused by eating contaminated food rise during the warmer months due to warmer temperatures and poor food handling practices.
Rebecca Dittmar, Extension Program Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Food and Nutrition Unit provides a closer look into Salmonella, one of the major sources of foodborne illnesses each year. Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods including meat products, vegetables, eggs, sprouts, and in processed foods. Foods that are affected tend to look and smell fine, therefore making it hard to tell if it is contaminated.
Salmonella illnesses can be serious and are more dangerous for certain individuals. Symptoms typically appear within 6 to 48 hours after ingestion and often last 4-7 days. Many people recover without the use of antibiotic medications. However, some individuals are at a higher risk of contracting the illness, such as the elderly, infants, and individuals with weakened immune systems. In these individuals, symptoms can be more severe causing a more serious health risk. It has been noted that for every one case of Salmonella that is confirmed, there are about 29 more cases that go unreported/not confirmed. As noted, most individuals can fight this illness without seeking medical treatment. Consequently, they are not submitting samples for testing, so no one learns what made that individual sick.
Remember, warmer weather helps create ideal conditions for Salmonella growth. When eating outdoors this summer, it is important to keep perishable foods cold until consumption and refrigerate all leftovers within 2 hours of being set out (1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F). Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs and egg products. Be aware of who will be in attendance at your next summer cooking experience and always remember to handle/cook/store foods properly. For additional information on preventing foodborne illnesses contact the Extension office at 940-627-3341.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Backyard Basics Workshop to Focus on Pickling

An abundance of home grown fruits and vegetables often triggers the desire to can foods at home.  While this can be a fun and rewarding way to keep foods long after the season ends, care must be taken to assure that foods canned at home are safe to eat.
Not all recipes for home canning have been tested for safety.  Sources of tested recipes include the National Center for Home Food Preservation (, USDA, and manufacturers of home canning equipment and supplies.  Recipes from cookbooks, outdated Extension publications and the Internet should not be used. There are many other aspects to canning that one needs to consider, including water bath or pressure canner, appropriate recipe, jar size, headspace, and recommended processing (canning) times. 
Wise County area residents who are interested in learning how to process pickled products are invited to attend a Backyard Basics workshop on Wednesday, June 20 from 1:00-3:30 pm hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office of Wise County. There will be hands on fun where participants will learn how to make pickles and relishes using water bath processing. Cost for the workshop is $25 per person. To register, please call 940-627-3341.  Space is limited.