Monday, July 27, 2015

Guest Post: August is National Breast Feeding Month by Angela Haist

Why should breastfeeding be promoted, supported, and celebrated? Simply put, breastfeeding provides a wealth of benefits, not only for the mother and baby, but also for employers, taxpayers, and the overall health of our nation. Here are just a few of the benefits. Breast milk provides natural immunity for infants; breastfeeding decreases a mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancers; families can save $1,200-$1,500 the first year; employers see increased worker retention, reduced absences, and lower health care costs; and breastfeeding has the potential to save up to $13 billion in health care costs (U.S. DHHS, 2015).

Every August, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) promotes, protects, and supports breastfeeding through World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) – August 1-7. As a response to the 1990 Innocenti Declaration, WABA formed in 1991 by government policymakers, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF and now involves over 170 countries (WHO, 2015).
Over the years, WBW has highlighted themes like: Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative, Breastfeeding: Empowering Women, Breastfeeding: A Community Responsibility, Breastfeeding: It’s Your Right, and Exclusive Breastfeeding: the Gold Standard (WABA, 2012). 

This year, WBW’s theme is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work!” With half of all mothers with children younger than 12 months working, this is an important issue (USBC, 2015). Many challenges exist for working mothers who breastfeed resulting in lower initiation rates and shorter duration of breastfeeding (USBC, 2015). The Affordable Care Act included a stipulation for employers to accommodate breastfeeding employees by providing reasonable break time (unpaid) to express their milk and a private, clean place (other than a restroom) to do so (USBC, 2015).
Since breastfeeding is considered the best way to provide babies with the nutrients they need, a rigorous global action to support breastfeeding among working mothers is imperative. WHO recommends “exclusive breastfeeding within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old,” and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or longer (WHO, 2015). 

WABA suggests three necessary factors to make it work for working mothers: time, space/proximity, and support (WABA, 2015). Increasing paid maternity leave, providing breastfeeding/pumping breaks, and allowing for flexible hours all help mothers to breastfeed their babies longer (WABA, 2015). Offering private areas to nurse/pump, keeping their infant nearby, and maintaining a clean work environment also help to sustain breastfeeding (WABA, 2015). Finally, informing employees about maternity laws and benefits, receiving support from employers and coworkers, and ensuring job security assist mothers to succeed at breastfeeding their babies for as long possible (WABA, 2015). 

What’s being done this month to support working mothers and breastfeeding? 

  • August 1 – The Global Big Latch On: groups of breastfeeding mothers come together at registered locations to all latch on their child at a set time to raise awareness and support breastfeeding. 
  • Texas Breastfeeding Coalition sponsors The Global Big Latch On and supports World Breastfeeding Week.
  • Texas WIC supports National Breastfeeding Month through a variety of activities: Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s Make it Work! Health Fair, Mother-Friendly Worksite seminars for employers, providing materials and toolkits to support and promote breastfeeding among working mothers (Texas DSHS, 2015).
  • Texas WIC additionally celebrates African American Breastfeeding Week from August 23-27 to support and promote breastfeeding among African American mothers who typically have the lowest breastfeeding rates (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014 and Texas DSHS, 2015). 
  • Most states sponsor a breastfeeding coalition or task force that provides local information on WBW events and activities. Hospitals and community centers are frequent sponsors of breastfeeding fairs. Common WBW activities include: The Big Latch On, a breastfeeding health fair, free breastfeeding classes/instruction, WBW theme display contests at hospitals, and local walks to support breastfeeding, to name a few.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Breastfeeding report card United States 2014. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1-8. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from

Texas Department State Health Services. (2015, April 22). Texas WIC: National breastfeeding month 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). Global health topics: World breastfeeding week (August 1-7). Retrieved July 10, 2015, from

U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. (2015). Employment. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. (2012). Nurturing the future through world breastfeeding week. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Actio. (2015). World breastfeeding week. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from

World Health Organization. (2015). World breastfeeding week. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from

By: Angela Haist, BS
Ms. Haist received a Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Promotion from Oklahoma State University. Currently, Ms. Haist is pursuing a Master of Science in Health Studies at TWU. She is a breastfeeding advocate, certified personal trainer, and marathon coach who loves helping others reach their goals for healthy living. 

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Guest Post - An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: The Importance of Fruits and Vegetables by Susan Karpiel

Guest Post: Women and Heart Disease by Monique Huntley


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Post: UV Safety by James Banks

How many times have you been casually driving about on a summer's day and spied a billboard depicting a smiling sun and thought, "That there sun is up to no good." If your answer is, "Always, James!", then your head is in the right place! Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the sun isn't smiling at you. It is! I'm just saying that its pearly whites and big happy eyes are emitting unseen dangers upon your helpless human surfacing! What unseen emissions am I speaking of? UV rays!! Eek!

UV, or ultraviolet, rays are a form of radiation that comes from sunlight (American Cancer Society [ACS], 2015a). There are three different types of UV rays. They're all conveniently named which can help us more easily remember them. UVA, UVB and UVC are the three types and of the three there are only two that we need worry about. UVC, as it turns out, doesn’t make its way through our atmosphere (a literal UVC force field) and therefore does not act as a potential danger to our moisturized hides. UVA and UVB, though, do make their way through our atmosphere and are causes of concern when it comes to exposing ourselves to them (ACS, 2015a)! 

UVA rays are known to advance the aging process of skin cells and can damage the DNA within. Long-term effects of excessive UVA ray exposure typically present as wrinkles to the skin but it's important to note that damaged DNA can increase the risk of developing cancer (ACS, 2015b). Beware! That tanning bed you visit is actually making a UVA ray sponge out of you! Unfortunately that analogy is somewhat misleading as you cannot simply squeeze those rays away and down some magical UVA ray drain.

UVB rays directly damage the DNA of skin cells. So while you're spared those dreadful wrinkles from the likes of UVA, you're not spared sunburns or the increased risk of skin cancer (ACS, 2015b). That's right, friend, UVB rays are the prime culprit and usual suspect when it comes to sunburns. So next time you snag a gnarly sunburn make sure that you correctly attribute blame in your daily diary entry.

Now that you know a lot more than your friends about UV rays, it's time that you learned even more about what you can do to protect yourself from too much exposure. Knowledge, as they say, is power! First, let's consider the more salient point. UV ray strength is dependent upon a lot of factors and being aware of those factors can help you appropriately gauge your approach to not soaking them all up (ACS, 2015a):
  • The time of the day - In between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is when UV rays are the strongest. Midnight beach sessions, anyone?
  • Season - spring and summer bring us stronger UV rays. This, of course, is because we expect more sunlight during those seasons.
  • Altitude - This one is almost obvious. The closer you are to the sun the closer you are to the sun's rays. This is like standing next to a fire. The closer you are the hotter you become. See?
  • Cloud cover - While it's not wise to assume that you're safe from UV because you cannot see the sun, it is enough of a point to make that cloud cover can lower exposure to UV rays. Truly, UV rays still get through. It's just a diminished amount.
Can more be done? Of course! Always remember to wear UV protective clothing (when it's responsible to do so) and seek the shade. Liberally apply lotions containing SPF (Sun Protection Factors) and apply them as directed to continue their helpful effects. Remember though, that SPF lotions don't protect against UVA rays, only UVB rays. This is why you still get a tan but don't get sunburn (see above). Also remember that the higher the SPF percentage the greater amount of UVB rays you're not absorbing (Wang, n.d.). So aim high!

Finally, and best of all, eat more dark chocolate! A recent-ish study found that eating chocolate with high flavanol components can offer greater photoprotection to your skin (Williams, Tamburic & Lally, 2009). A sweet point to end on indeed!

In conclusion, I want you to know that you don't truly have to be fearful of the sun. There are things that are terribly far more frightening (e.g. Venus fly-traps). You just have to be aware of the ways that too much sunlight can damage your skin and be mindful of what you can do to combat those sunlight slights. And now you're cognizant of both. Be safe, friends!


American Cancer Society. (2015a). What is ultraviolet (UV) radiation?. Retrieved from

American Cancer Society. (2015b). What Is Cancer? Retrieved from

Wang, S. Q. (n.d.). ASK THE EXPERT: Does a higher-SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen always protect your skin better? Retrieved from

Williams, S., Tamburic, S., & Lally, C. (2009). Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 8(3), 169-173. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2165.2009.00448.x

By: James Banks.

James Banks is a graduate student at Texas Woman's University. He enjoys his job as a servant of the public for the State of Texas. When James isn't working or studying he enjoys family time, exercising and journaling.  

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Hydration: A Must to Stay Healthy

Safety First

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hydration: A Must to Stay Healthy

Surprisingly, our bodies are made up of 50-60% water (U.S.G.S., 2015). When we don’t get enough water to keep up this percentage, our bodies cannot function properly thus causing potentially serious health problems.

Why is hydration necessary?
Water performs many important functions within the human body. Some of these include:
  • ·         Temperature regulation – For example, our sweat cools our bodies down when we get too hot. If we don’t have enough water, we won’t produce enough sweat and we can overheat (Holland, 2013).
  • ·         Waste flushing – Water is necessary to flush out toxins within our bodies (in the form of urine). If we don’t have enough, toxins can build up and cause illness and even death (U.S.G.S., 2015).
  • ·         Saliva production – Without water, we will not make enough saliva. Saliva is necessary for eating, talking, food digestion, and preventing tooth decay (NIH, 2014).
  • ·         Joints – Water helps cushion our joints as well as helps lubricate them so they can move freely (CDC, 2014).

How much water do we need to intake daily?
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that women consume 2.7 liters or 11 cups of water and men consume 3.2 liters or 13 cups of water daily to stay properly hydrated (2004).

Another way to figure out how much water you need daily is to use the following calculation:

0.5 ounces x Body Weight in Pounds = Daily Fluid Requirement in ounces

To determine how many cups that would be just divide the number by 8.

For those who exercise for prolonged periods of time in the heat (football, swimming, hiking, running, etc.) there is a new recommendation for fluid intake. The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (Hew-Butler et al., 2015) recently came out with the recommendation that athletes and those working out in the heat let their thirst determine how much fluid they need. This recommendation was made to prevent the risk of hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the body) that can occur when more fluid is ingested than the body actually needs. See this link for further information: Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine

How do I know if I’m staying hydrated?
The Mayo Clinic lists several symptoms of dehydration:
  • ·         Little to no urine or dark colored urine (I know, this one is pretty gross)
  • ·         Dry mouth
  • ·         Extreme thirst
  • ·         Rapid heartbeat
  • ·         Sunken eyes
  • ·         Rapid breathing
  • ·         Low blood pressure

What do I do to prevent dehydration?
The #1 way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of water especially in times of extreme heat, exercise, or illness.
In addition:
  • ·         Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeinated beverages
  • ·         Stay out of the sun
  • ·         Eat fruits and vegetables as they are naturally high in water content such as zucchini, celery, eggplant, broccoli, watermelon, and strawberries just to name a few.

So, stay hydrated and stay safe!


CDC. (2014, June 3). Drinking water. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Hew-Butler, T., Rosner, M. H., Fowkes-Godek, S., Dugas, J. P., Hoffman, M. D., Lewis, D. P., & ... Verbalis, J. G. (2015). Statement of the Third International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference, Carlsbad, California, 2015. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: Official Journal Of The Canadian Academy Of Sport Medicine, 25(4), 303-320. doi:10.1097/JSM.0000000000000221
Holland, K. (2013, June 4). Thermoregulation. Retrieved from Healthline:
Institute of Medicine. (2004). Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate . Washington: The National Academies.
Mayo Clinic. (2014, February 12). Dehydration: Symptoms. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic:
National Insitute of Health (2014, October 9). Dry mouth. Retrieved from National Institute of Health: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:
United States Geological Survey (2015, May 5). The water in you. Retrieved from The U.S. Geological Survey:

By: Erin Delashmit, RDH, BS
Ms. Delashmit  received an Associate of Arts degree from Tarrant County College and a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Baylor College of Dentistry. Currently, Ms. Delashmit pursuing Master of Science in Health Studies at TWU.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

World Hepatitis Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) has marked July 28th as World Hepatitis Day, a day dedicated to spreading awareness about the various hepatitis viruses and prevention programs that can reduce people's risk of getting infected (World Hepatitis Alliance, 2015). For this particular blog post, I wanted to include some information about how Hepatitis C impacts men in the United States and in other parts of the world.

Basic Information about Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a virus that causes liver damage such as fibrosis or cirrhosis (WHO, 2014); the virus is usually transmitted from person to person through unprotected sex, sharing needles, blood transfusions using HCV infected blood, and blood transference between a mother and her baby (WHO, 2014). Individuals with acute HCV can carry the virus from 2 weeks to 6 months; whereas people with chronic HCV can carry the virus for a prolonged period of time (WHO, 2014). Also people with acute Hepatitis C may not exhibit any symptoms while people with chronic Hepatitis C may experience pain around the joints, fever, and vomiting (WHO, 2014). Though there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, people can decrease their risk of contracting Hepatitis C by using condoms during sex and not sharing needles; additionally taking antiviral drugs can decrease the severity of the disease (WHO, 2014).     

Men and Hepatitis C in the United States
Men are at risk of contracting Hepatitis C. In 2013 approximately 29, 718 cases of Hepatitis C were reported in the U.S. (CDC, 2015). Of that number, about 0.7 cases per 100,000 men were diagnosed with Hepatitis C from 2010 to 2012 (CDC, 2013b, p.43). Among the male community, homosexual and bisexual men have a higher propensity to contract HCV (Roth, 2014). Also men with Hepatitis C are at risk of contracting other infections such as HIV (CDC, 2013a).

Men and Hepatitis C in Other Nations
Globally, about 130-150 million people are diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C (WHO, 2014). Though there are no statistics as to how many men are globally infected with HCV, individual countries have done their own studies as to how HCV have impacted men. The following articles are examples of some studies that have been previously done.

-Switzerland: "Prevalence of Hepatitis C in a Swiss sample of men who have sex with men: Whom to screen for HCV infection?" (

-England: "Hepatitis C in men who have sex with men in London-a community survey" (

-Thailand: "Prevalence and Risk Factors for Hepatitis C Virus Infection among Young Thai Men" ( 

In celebration of World Hepatitis Day, men are encouraged to get tested for various hepatitis viruses including Hepatitis C. Since men with acute HCV may not exhibit any symptoms, they may not be aware that they are carrying the virus (WHO, 2014). Men should speak with their physicians about their risk of contracting HCV and whether they should be tested for Hepatitis C. Additionally, men should discuss with their physician whether they should get vaccinated for other hepatitis viruses such as Hepatitis A or B (WHO, 2014). 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013a). Viral hepatitis: Information for gay and bisexual men. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013b). Viral hepatitis surveillance: United States, 2012. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC). (2015). Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Retrieved from
Roth, E. (2014). Hepatitis C in men: Symptoms, treatments, and more. Retrieved from
World Health Organization (WHO). (2014). Hepatitis C. Retrieved from
World Hepatitis Alliance. (2015). World hepatitis day. Retrieved from 

By: Tyler Moses
Tyler Moses is in the dual library science/ health studies master's program at Texas Woman's University.