Take a Run at the Sun…The Latest Wise Tips for Sun Protection

May 28, 2013 by

Illustration by Tim Robinson


I don’t know about you but when I read articles about skin care and sun protection, I just get dizzy because there are so many conflicting “to do’s and don’ts”.  Without in-depth analysis and context the reports seem to contradict each other! For example, we read reports on the rising number of cases of skin cancer and how we should limit our exposure to the sun and then turn the page to read an article about how most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D ( best absorbed from sunshine) which is a vitamin that strengthens our bones and nourishes our muscles and nerves. Aaugh! So much to sift through!

Fortunately sound advice about sun protection from most medical experts is not much different from the advice we hear about eating. Good ol’ moderation is always recommended. It would be great if we could follow the “ideal” advice from Dr. Mao “Limit sun exposure to thirty minutes or less daily within two hours of sunrise and sunset”, but there are too many people with different jobs, lifestyles and hobbies who could not adhere to this rigid regimen. So what can we get dizzy about next? Sun screen protection of course! But don’t hide behind those sun blocking curtains just yet–a little wise homework will allow you to take a run at the sun and get on with the business of living! World Wise Beauty recommends the EWG’s 2013 Guide to Safer Sunscreens and the informative NYT article  “New Rules For Sunscreen” by Roni Caryn Rabin. See a few tips from the article belowTrulyherself, Lauroly

                  WISE TIPS FOR SUN PROTECTION                                          

■ Look for products with an SPF of 15 to 50, and that are labeled “broad spectrum protection,” meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Higher SPF values are misleading. “It’s like the gas mileage sticker on a car. It’s based on test conditions that you’ll never achieve in the real world,” said Ms. Lunder.

■ Keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun, as their skin is especially sensitive. Sunscreen should not be used on infants. If they are outdoors, keep them completely covered and in the shade.

■ Try to keep older children inside when the sun is harshest, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A bad sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles the risk of melanoma later in life, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

■ Avoid sunscreen sprays. The F.D.A. has banned sunscreen powders (though some products may still be available) and has asked for more data on sprays. The concern is twofold: that not enough sunscreen makes it onto the skin, and that the spray may be inhaled into the lungs.

■ Avoid products with vitamin A, retinol or its derivatives, such as retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. At the moment, the F.D.A. says there isn’t enough evidence to suggest these are harmful, but the Canadian health authorities appear to be concerned that the additives increase sun sensitivity. They have proposed requiring that sunscreens with retinyl palmitate carry a warning saying they can increase the possibility of a sunburn for up to a week.

■ The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding products with oxybenzone, a chemical that may disrupt hormones. Though research has found this effect, many scientists say the effect is so weak as to be insignificant. The advocacy group, however, recommends products that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients. (These products may leave a milky white film on the skin.)

■ Look for fragrance-free products. Scents bring more unnecessary chemicals and potential allergens to the mix.

■ Take endorsements and seals of approval with a grain of salt. The Skin Cancer Foundation gives a “seal of recommendation” to sunscreens, but only if their manufacturer has donated $10,000 to become a member of the organization.

The above excerpt is from an article which appeared in print on 05/28/2013, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: The New Rules for Sunscreen.

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WWB WATCH: “Breasts” are Trending High but Not Just in Playboy…

May 23, 2013 by



Yes, hold on to your breasts because they are trending high in the medical industry! I recently walked through a lovely local street festival in my area when suddenly a smiling woman jumped out from a stand waving a flyer  in my face and said exuberantly”Have you had your annual mammogram yet?” Little did she know, I was already a breast cancer survivor ( read my story here) and went through my share of tests I never want to endure again. Her jumping in my face as I casually walked by was unpleasant but what really disturbed me was the “peddling” of medical tests at a community festival.  Have things gone too far? Do they need to be “marketing” breasts exams at a local supposedly “fun” community festival? I realized at that very moment that my breasts were a “target” for business.

Shortly after the festival, there has been two important articles in the Press, which I feel are so important for all women to read. The first one appeared in the New York Times magazine written by journalist and breast cancer survivor Peggy Orenstein. Her article entitled ” Our Feel- Good War on Breast Cancer” has a tagline that reads “Has raising awareness become more important than saving lives?”. It is a brave and provocative article because she took on a highly charged subject that was very personal for her. If you haven’t read it yet this would be the one long article you take time to read over the holiday weekend. What is important to note is both Peggy, myself and thousands of other women were told we had non-invasive (sometimes called Stage 0) breast cancer and yet were treated with the same methods as someone with full-blown Stage 2 cancer. There is justification based on research for this but read more of Peggy’s article for the full story on this all too common practice.


Angelina Jolie


The second  story on breasts followed a week later and it was Angelina Jolie’s  OP ed also in the NYTimes entitled “My Medical Choice” http://nyti.ms/10ObmIv. Angela’s choice to preempt any chance of getting breast cancer by having a double mastectomy was a a highly personal and individual choice for Angelina but it also raised all kinds of questions about gene testing for “fearful”women all over the world. 


Thankfully I found an article  http://www.theplc.net/brca.html from a Doctor I respect (and for full disclosure I used to work for) who wrote a grounded piece entitled ” Are Your Breasts as Dangerous as Angela Jolie’s?” Dr. Fein of the Princeton Longevity Center in NJ walks you through the facts ( at least what we know thus far) and you will learn more about whether you need to run out and get a BRCA test.  



I took the test because I had a strong cancer history in my immediate family but I also wanted to take it because I had doctors recommending a mastectomy for my very early stage cancer! It just didn’t make sense to me? The only way I was going to consider such a drastic measure was if I had the BRCA Gene. Well guess what? I didn’t have it! Yet if I listened to the “specialist” at the time, I would have had myself a double mastectomy with just Stage 0 cancer. This decision would have been based on fear and fear alone. There was no reason for me to be removing both my breasts at my stage of cancer. In fact now there are many who think that women with my D.C.I.S diagnosis are being over treated! So what is really happening here?

The big elephant in the room is “breasts” have become a target for money making industries. However well-intentioned some might be, the medical industry is building “business models” around your breast and banking on the possibility that one day you might have a few specs on your mammogram. So hold on to your breasts ladies–because they are wanted! This is business as usual and your breasts are trending high…

WWB Note:  Always be your own guru and make medical decisions based on what is right for your bio-individuality and personal circumstance. This blog post is not meant to demonize medical professionals, rather my hope is it will give wider context and perspective to women who are bombarded with scary information ( and sometimes scare tactics) about their breasts.



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Wellness Culture or Power Culture? A Question for both Patient and Doctor…

May 23, 2013 by

I share the following  article from WELL not to instill fear about our medical community but to illuminate important cultural behaviors and how “systems” can go wrong.  The doctor who wrote this article was wise and brave.  She had to step out of her own “professional culture” which she was “steeped” in to question whether the processes and unspoken rules followed were in place to protect “the system” rather than to heal the patient.

While this article is very specific to how doctors treat each other and allow hierarchy to overrule what might be best for the patient,  it also is a wake up call for us as individuals to ask questions. What does wellness culture look like? What does wellness culture feel like?  Am I being listened to? Is this hospital, doctor or medical group doing what’s best for them or doing what’s best for me? Is this a place of healing or is this a place to make a profit and sell procedures and treatments.  Wisdom comes from always asking questions and perhaps also from understanding we are continually learning.  Something to keep in mind as we turn turn to experts, specialist and gurus for miracles, cures, healing and advice is they too are still learning…


Afraid to Speak Up to Medical Power



Silvia Otte/Getty Images
Doctor and Patient

Dr. Pauline Chen on medical care.

The slender, weather-beaten, elderly Polish immigrant had been diagnosed with lung cancer nearly a year earlier and was receiving chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial. I was a surgical consultant, called in to help control the fluid that kept accumulating in his lungs.

During one visit, he motioned for me to come closer. His voice was hoarse from a tumor that spread, and the constant hissing from his humidified oxygen mask meant I had to press my face nearly against his to understand his words.

“This is getting harder, doctor,” he rasped. “I’m not sure I’m up to anymore chemo.”

I was not the only doctor that he confided to. But what I quickly learned was that none of us was eager to broach the topic of stopping treatment with his primary cancer doctor.

That doctor was a rising superstar in the world of oncology, a brilliant physician-researcher who had helped discover treatments for other cancers and who had been recruited to lead our hospital’s then lackluster cancer center. Within a few months of the doctor’s arrival, the once sleepy department began offering a dazzling array of experimental drugs. Calls came in from outside doctors eager to send their patients in for treatment, and every patient who was seen was promptly enrolled in one of more than a dozen well-documented treatment protocols.

But now, no doctors felt comfortable suggesting anything but the most cutting-edge, aggressive treatments.

Even the No. 2 doctor in the cancer center, Robin to the chief’s cancer-battling Batman, was momentarily taken aback when I suggested we reconsider the patient’s chemotherapy plan. “I don’t want to tell him,” he said, eyes widening. He reeled off his chief’s vast accomplishments. “I mean, who am I to tell him what to do?”

We stood for a moment in silence before he pointed his index finger at me. “You tell him,” he said with a smile. “You tell him to consider stopping treatment.”

Memories of this conversation came flooding back last week when I read an essay on the problems posed by hierarchies within the medical profession.

For several decades, medical educators and sociologists have documented the existence of hierarchies and an intense awareness of rank among doctors. The bulk of studies have focused on medical education, a process often likened to military and religious training, with elder patriarchs imposing the hair shirt of shame on acolytes unable to incorporate a profession’s accepted values and behaviors. Aspiring doctors quickly learn whose opinions, experiences and voices count, and it is rarely their own. Ask a group of interns who’ve been on the wards for but a week, and they will quickly raise their hands up to the level of their heads to indicate their teachers’ status and importance, then lower them toward their feet to demonstrate their own.

It turns out that this keen awareness of ranking is not limited to students and interns. Other research has shown that fully trained physicians are acutely aware of a tacit professional hierarchy based on specialties, like primary care versus neurosurgery, or even on diseases different specialists might treat, like hemorrhoids and constipation versus heart attacks and certain cancers.

But while such professional preoccupation with privilege can make for interesting sociological fodder, the real issue, warns the author of a courageous essay published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine, is that such an overly developed sense of hierarchy comes at an unacceptable price: good patient care.

Dr. Ranjana Srivastava, a medical oncologist at the Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, Australia, recalls a patient she helped to care for who died after an operation. Before the surgery, Dr. Srivastava had been hesitant to voice her concerns, assuming that the patient’s surgeon must be “unequivocally right, unassailable, or simply not worth antagonizing.” When she confesses her earlier uncertainty to the surgeon after the patient’s death, Dr. Srivastava learns that the surgeon had been just as loath to question her expertise and had assumed that her silence before the surgery meant she agreed with his plan to operate.

“Each of us was trying our best to help a patient, but we were also respecting the boundaries and hierarchy imposed by our professional culture,” Dr. Srivastava said. “The tragedy was that the patient died, when speaking up would have made all the difference.”

Compounding the problem is an increasing sense of self-doubt among many doctors. With rapid advances in treatment, there is often no single correct “answer” for a patient’s problem, and doctors, struggling to stay up-to-date in their own particular specialty niches, are more tentative about making suggestions that cross over to other doctors’ “turf.” Even as some clinicians attempt to compensate by organizing multidisciplinary meetings, inviting doctors from all specialties to discuss a patient’s therapeutic options, “there will inevitably be a hierarchy at those meetings of who is speaking,” Dr. Srivastava noted. “And it won’t always be the ones who know the most about the patient who will be taking the lead.”

It is the potentially disastrous repercussions for patients that make this overly developed awareness of rank and boundaries a critical issue in medicine. Recent efforts to raise safety standards and improve patient care have shown that teams are a critical ingredient for success. But simply organizing multidisciplinary lineups of clinicians isn’t enough. What is required are teams that recognize the importance of all voices and encourage active and open debate.

Since their patient’s death, Dr. Srivastava and the surgeon have worked together to discuss patient cases, articulate questions and describe their own uncertainties to each other and in patients’ notes. “We have tried to remain cognizant of the fact that we are susceptible to thinking about hierarchy,” Dr. Srivastava said. “We have tried to remember that sometimes, despite our best intentions, we do not speak up for our patients because we are fearful of the consequences.”

That was certainly true for my lung cancer patient. Like all the other doctors involved in his care, I hesitated to talk to the chief medical oncologist. I questioned my own credentials, my lack of expertise in this particular area of oncology and even my own clinical judgment. When the patient appeared to fare better, requiring less oxygen and joking and laughing more than I had ever seen in the past, I took his improvement to be yet another sign that my attempt to talk about holding back chemotherapy was surely some surgical folly.

But a couple of days later, the humidified oxygen mask came back on. And not long after that, the patient again asked for me to come close.

This time he said: “I’m tired. I want to stop the chemo.”

Just before he died, a little over a week later, he was off all treatment except for what might make him comfortable. He thanked me and the other doctors for our care, but really, we should have thanked him and apologized. Because he had pushed us out of our comfortable, well-delineated professional zones. He had prodded us to talk to one another. And he showed us how to work as a team in order to do, at last, what we should have done weeks earlier.

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Holistic Chef Shelley Alexander Finds Harmony from Within with a Healing Tune-Up

May 16, 2013 by


Healthy Epicurean Featured Book:  Deliciously Holistic 

Author, Holistic Chef and Certified Healing Foods Specialist: Shelley Alexander, CHFS

We have explored many ideas with expert nutritionist about what it means to be a Healthy Epicurean at World Wise Beauty but today we “dig in” with Holistic Chef, Shelley Alexander and author of “Deliciously Holistic” and discover how food can be tasty as well as restorative and healing.

In today’s stress driven world, many people are living with chronic and painful conditions. Shelly herself experienced health challenges and not feeling well motivated her to focus her expertise in the culinary arts on nutrient rich healing foods. Shelley found that a holistic based diet filled her body with energy, strength, immunity and peace.  Now that is a strong testimonial for whole foods! So before you “pop a pill” or undergo another invasive test, consider a healing tune-up with Shelley Alexander or with professionals like her in your area.

Lauroly Q- Welcome Shelley to World Wise Beauty and the Healthy Epicurean series. I have to admit that we could really spend this whole blog talking about your beautiful presentations and recipes found in your book. Having held impressive Executive Chef positions with top catering and event planning companies, your experience as a professional chef shines through in your book!  So let’s get up to date and talk about how your company “A Harmony Healing” got off the ground. Share with us how your personal and professional passions came together…

Shelley Alexander: Hi Lauroly! First of all thanks so much for all the kind words about my new book! I really appreciate you interviewing me for your wonderful blog. I’m truly passionate about all things related to food. I grew up in Ohio eating ripe, juicy, vegetables and fruits fresh from my grandparents’ extensive garden and the local farmers’ markets which made me really appreciate how fantastic seasonal, local foods are. I started my business A Harmony Healing in 2010 and my blog in October 2011. My career in natural health and healing foods started when I was experiencing weight gain, digestion, and low energy. I healed my body using holistic healing methods and eating traditional, organic, nutrient-rich healing whole foods and taking whole food supplements.

The success of my own healing and gift of radiant health encouraged me to go for training to become a certified healing foods specialist in 2008. Once I completed the program and did additional studies in nutrition and holistic healing, I decided to combine my love of healing foods, holistic health, and my professional chef skills to start my company A Harmony Healing. My company and blog are giving me the opportunity every day to share my knowledge, joy, and passion to help empower people to make optimal nutrition and holistic lifestyle choices to achieve their own healing and experience vibrant health.

Lauroly Q- It is amazing how food and especially whole foods can help us restore, heal and fuel up! But it seems to me when someone says they have trouble let’s just say with sleeping, the first thing they are recommended is a pill by the medical community. My Mom has been fighting cancer for a few years  and swears by dark Bing cherries for better sleep. According to research studies cherries have melatonin in them and can help with sleeping soundly. Who knew a sweet treat like cherries could be so useful! What other healing foods do you love to recommend as a Certified Healing Foods Specialist?

Shelley Alexander: There are so many wonderful healing foods but some of my favorite superstars are kale, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, spinach, garlic, onions, turmeric, romaine lettuce, all berries, citrus fruits, radishes, carrots, avocados, coconut, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, wild salmon, and wild black cod.

Lauroly Q- The term bio-individuality really resonates with me personally. It seems to me that we all thrive on different diets based on our own unique bio-chemistry. I wish we could all be vegans or vegetarians but I think the one size diet does not fit all. Shelley, how do you work with all the diverse diets out there? One woman’s healing food could be another’s trigger for painful symptoms! For example, many people with Rheumatoid Arthritis are encouraged to avoid vegetables that grow in the night (night shades) yet many of these vegetables removed from their diets are bursting with healing properties. This indicates to me that diets must be individualized and eating holistically has to be crafted for an individual’s overall health condition and lifestyle. What are your thoughts on this subject as a Holistic Chef?


Shelley Alexander, Holistic Chef

Shelley Alexander: I agree with you that there is no one diet or lifestyle that fits every person. It’s really important to me to talk with my clients to find out what matters most to them regarding their food and lifestyle choices and what they would like to achieve in order to have a happier life with more joy, energy, strength, and a strong immune system. Once we have that discussion, I can start to customize my client’s food and lifestyle plan based on their unique bio-individuality, health conditions, and lifestyle. Some of the tools which I use to do so are stress reduction techniques, detox cleanses, Alcat testing, and an extensive questionnaire and food diary. The Alcat test in particular is an excellent tool for me to use because it uses a whole blood test to measure the body’s cellular response to a wide array of substances including whole foods, functional foods, medicinal herbs, food additives, food colorings, environmental chemicals, molds, pharmacoactive agents, and antibiotics. This test truly helps me to create a plan based on each person’s unique biochemistry.


Once I discover what is causing my clients issues with their health, I can design a customized program with the right foods, personal care and home products, and lifestyle solutions to help them heal. Another thing I also like to do is encourage all my clients to learn to listen to their body’s response when they make certain choices on foods, beverages, and lifestyle. Our body has innate intelligence and if we learn to listen it will let us know exactly what we need to do to feel our best.

Lauroly Closing: Thank you Shelley. The wisdom you just shared about tuning in to our own innate intelligence is so important to emphasize. Wish we could all be your client and your dinner guest! So happy you dropped by to share your wisdom and expertise. You are a true Healthy Epicurean and a World Wise Beauty!

For those who can’t hire Shelley you will find over fifty pages of holistic lifestyle tips to help improve energy and strengthen the immune system and much more in her book “Deliciously Holistic” A “purple pill” can’t compare to the pleasure of nature’s bounty and Shelly’s book gives you a plethora of creative options to try before you have to make a visit to the pharmacy. Oh and did I mention her Double Chocolate Almond Cookies or Avocado Lime Popsicles? Just leaving you with a little healthy temptation!


WWB Note: Sometimes medications and treatments are necessary and can help.  Always consider all your treatment options when facing illness or experiencing pain.  Make the best decision for your individual health and listen to you own inner pilot…



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