Tag Archives: South Carolina

DHEC in the News: Secondhand smoke in children, liver cancer, foodborne illness

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Dangers of secondhand smoke in children

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful to your health. It causes cancer, emphysema, heart attacks and strokes.

In short, it is deadly. Yet, people still smoke.

Many smokers believe it calms their nerves and reduces their appetite. However, this article is not about convincing people to stop smoking. As adults, you already know that you should stop and why. This column is about the dangers of smoking around children and what you can do about it.

Liver cancer deaths soar in South Carolina, across the US

Deaths from liver cancer are up a staggering 43 percent overall nationwide, and South Carolina’s rate is higher than the national average, federal health officials say.

While a number of factors could be to blame, including alcohol and tobacco use, experts point to rising rates of hepatitis C, or HCV, as the main culprit.

General Interest
Foodborne illness may be on the rise. Here’s why

(CNN) One child drank apple cider at a Connecticut farm, another a glass of juice during a road trip in Oregon; later, both were rushed to emergency rooms as they struggled for their lives. A middle-aged woman became sick more than a decade ago after enjoying a salad at a banquet hosted by a California hotel; her debilitating symptoms continue to this day.

A 17-year-old paid the ultimate price when he ate two hamburgers “with everything, to go” and died days later.

These are the stories behind the faces on the “Honor Wall” of Stop Foodborne Illness, the national nonprofit that represents and supports those who suffered a drastic consequence following the most ordinary act: eating.

DHEC in the News: Swimming advisory, disaster-relief meals, relief from drought

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

State lifts some Horry County beach warnings, five areas remain under advisory

South Carolina officials lifted a county-wide beach swimming advisory, but five local advisories remain, the state announced on Wednesday.

Samsung donation will provide thousands of meals during 2018 hurricane season

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – A new partnership announced on Wednesday will help the Palmetto State prepare for the unknown, just in time for the 2018 hurricane season.

This, after Samsung announced a $35,000 donation to Harvest Hope Food Bank. The money will go specifically to providing disaster-relief meals during emergencies to families who require special medical needs.

General Interest

Record rainfall breaks South Carolina’s drought, helping planting and play

Two weeks of persistent showers capped by Subtropical Storm Alberto were very good to the dry Lowcountry and South Carolina.

We’re no longer in a statewide drought.

And that’s good news for those who missed having extra water around.

Have a safe and fun-filled summer

The weather is heating up, children are fast moving toward the final days of school and visions of summer fun are dancing in the heads of families all across South Carolina. Have fun, but be careful.

While Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of cookout season and summer fun, significant health and safety hazards are lurking out there that can spoil a good time if we’re not safe.

Stay safe when swimming

Memorial weekend typically brings with it the openings of swimming pools and other outdoor water activities. Swimming in an ocean or pool is an excellent outdoor activity for the whole family and it’s important to make sure everyone is equipped with sunscreen to protect themselves from harmful, burning ultraviolet (UV) rays. Practicing sun safety plays an important role in the prevention of skin cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before going outdoors. Reapply sunscreen if it wears off after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Protect yourself from insect bites

Sunscreen isn’t all you should arm yourself with: Use an insect repellent containing Deet to protect your family from insects while outdoors.  The repellent is safe and, when used as directed, is the best way to protect against mosquito bites, ticks and other biting insects; children and pregnant women should protect themselves also. The bite of insects such as mosquitoes can potentially do more than cause irritating itching; mosquitoes can also transmit diseases such as West Nile and Zika.

Watch out for rip currents

It’s also important to be knowledgeable about rip currents or rip tides at the beach. Rip currents are responsible for many deaths on our nation’s beaches every year and can occur in any body of water that has breaking waves, not just the ocean. Currents at the beach can move to different locations along the coast and can be deadly both to swimmers and those in waist deep water where the rip current occurs. Be sure to check in with lifeguards, who can alert you to areas that have rip current potential.

Here are some more tips to keep you and your family safe and healthy at the beach or pool:

  • Always supervise children when in or around water.
  • Dress in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing if it is hot outside. Stay cool with cool showers or baths. Seek medical care immediately if anyone has symptoms of heat-related illness, including a headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, and an elevated body temperature.iStock_51595250_XXLARGE cute kids swim class
  • Stay hydrated. Your body loses fluids through sweat. Drink more water than usual — two to four cups of water every hour you are outside. Also, try to avoid alcohol intake to prevent dehydration.
  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your skin helps protect against UV rays. Be sure to apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Be aware of swim and water quality advisories and avoid swimming in those areas.
  • Do not enter the water with cuts, open sores or lesions; naturally-occurring bacteria in the water may cause infection.
  • Do not swim in or allow children to play in swashes of water or near storm water drainage pipes. These shallow pools are caused by runoff from paved surfaces and often contain much higher levels of bacteria and pollutants than the ocean. Permanent water quality advisories are indicated by signs in these areas.
  • Do not swim in the ocean during or immediately following rainfall. Heavy rain can wash bacteria and possibly harmful pollutants into the surf. To reduce the risk of illness, wait at least 12 hours after a heavy rain to resume swimming.
  • Be sure to check your local news and weather forecast for information on heat and beach advisories before planning any type of outdoor activities.

Collaborative project focuses on combating obesity and improving children’s health

As schools wrap up another academic year, findings from a project aimed at improving the health of South Carolina’s children highlight the benefit parents and communities can gain by including physical activity in children’s schedules over the summer and beyond.

While positive steps have already been taken in South Carolina to address the issue, the state still faces a high childhood obesity rate. According to the SC FitnessGram project, nearly 37 percent of South Carolina’s youth are obese or overweight and almost half of them do not meet health-related standards for heart-lung fitness when tested on physical activities such as brisk walking or running.

‘Healthy students learn better’

This statewide effort to evaluate and improve health-related fitness among public school students is funded by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation as part of a partnership that includes DHEC, the South Carolina Department of Education and the University of South Carolina.

“The Foundation’s commitment to a healthier South Carolina starts by creating healthy habits in our children,” Foundation executive director Erika Kirby said. “We know that healthy students learn better. For the first time, we have statewide health-related fitness data that can be used to shape and support quality physical education efforts in South Carolina. We remain focused on the health of our children and will use these numbers as an example of the continued work to be done.”

While it has long been known that South Carolina has an obesity problem, this is the first time our state has compiled comprehensive data of this kind. Thanks to the statewide FitnessGram software and the partners that have collaborated on this effort, there is now a way of tracking the problem and, more importantly, of coming up with ways to combat it.

“The SC FitnessGram project provides important findings that are a great benefit to our state. It’s critical that we continue to support greater health-related fitness outcomes for our state’s K-12 students,” said USC President Harris Pastides.

Obesity has consequences 

During the 2016-2017 school year, over 100,000 students from over 700 schools in 60 school districts participated in the project. The program was administered by physical education teachers to students in the second, fifth and eighth grades and high school. FitnessGram assesses components of fitness that are known to be related to health outcomes in children and youth.

“The health and nutrition of South Carolina’s students has a strong impact on their future and productivity later in life,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “The collaborative support from both the public and private sectors in the SC FitnessGram project has provided educators and communities with valuable data to make informed decisions about the well being of our young people. I look forward to continuing our work and ensuring that South Carolina students are prepared for success.”

Obesity has important consequences on South Carolina’s health and economy. The economic cost of obesity in S.C. is estimated at $8.5 billion per year and growing. Obese and overweight children are at risk for several serious health problems such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Physical activity is key

“Increasing physical activity is a critical strategy to prevent childhood obesity and decrease the risk for numerous adverse health outcomes,” said Dr. Lilian Peake, DHEC director of Public Health. “Overcoming obesity is a significant challenge that South Carolinians must tackle together. It will take a concerted effort by parents, schools, community organizations, health care centers and others to help improve the health of our students.”

School-age youth need 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. In an effort to encourage more physical activity among South Carolina’s youth, several recommendations have been developed that people can use at homein schools, and around their communities.

The full SC FitnessGram report as well as other information related to obesity and fitness can be found on the SCaledown website at scaledown.org/fitnessgram.

American Stroke Month

It’s American Stroke Month. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, part of your brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and starts to die.

Up to 80 percent of strokes may be preventable. Stroke is South Carolina’s third biggest killer. In 2012, 14,827 people were treated for stroke in South Carolina hospitals. The total cost of hospitalizations due to stroke in South Carolina in 2012 was $638 million.

Facts about strokes:

  • Strokes kill brain cells.
  • There are different types of strokes.
  • About 1 in 4 stroke survivors is at risk for another.
  • Prevention is key.
  • Time lost is brain lost.