RAY OF SUNSHINE? Given the sun's well-documented link to skin cancer, we should avoid it at all costs, right? Not necessarily. A preliminary study suggests that working outdoors or living in a sunny climate may reduce the risk of breast and colon cancers. Possible reason: the sun triggers the production of vitamin D, which may slow cancer-cell division. But remember, don't hang out in the sun without adequate protection.
COASTAL DISTURBANCES The waters along America's coastline may look inviting, but don't be fooled. In a new report, the EPA finds that 34% of the nation's coastal waters have such serious ecological problems that they cannot support aquatic life or even basic human activities, like fishing. Among the sickest seas: the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.
THE DEEP END Anybody who's been near one knows that indoor swimming pools reek of chlorine. But what you may not know is that when chlorine mixes with skin cells and skin-care products, it can form a variety of volatile compounds, some of which may be harmful to a developing fetus. Researchers in Britain found that the amount of at least one organic compound, chloroform, is 35 times higher in pools than in tap water. Advice to pregnant women: shower off before taking the plunge.
--By Janice M. Horowitz
Sources: Good News--Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Bad News--EPA; Occupational and Environmental Medicine