Dr. Glanz named to new NAS committee to review the science on sunscreen, coral reefs, and cancer prevention

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, a George A. Weiss University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named to a new National Academy of Sciences committee: Committee on Environmental Impact of Currently Marketed Sunscreens and Potential Human Impacts of Changes in Sunscreen Usage. The study is sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and managed by the Ocean Studies Board and the National Academy of Medicine’s Health and Medicine Division. This study will review the state of science on the use of currently marketed sunscreen ingredients, their fate and effects in aquatic environments, and the potential public health implications associated with changes in sunscreen usage.

Why is the study being done? 

Concerns have been raised about the potential toxicity of sunscreens to a variety of marine and freshwater aquatic organisms, particularly corals. At the same time, there are concerns that people will use less sunscreen rather than substituting sunscreens with UV filters that are considered environmentally safe.

Karen Glanz has been conducting research in skin cancer prevention for more than 25 years.  She is internationally recognized as a leader in the study of human behavior related to sun protection, and commercial aspects of sunscreen sales and purchases.

A Systematic Review of Nutrition Policies in Schools

School administrators and public health officials are important players in the choices our children make during meals at school. This evidence review of environmental and policy strategies to improve school nutrition from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) helps decision-makers find the right program to achieve healthy outcomes in their schools. UPenn PRC Director and George A. Weiss University Professor, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH worked with colleagues from the Community Preventive Services Task Force (known as the “Community Guide”), to conduct systematic reviews of the evidence about four types of interventions, evaluating their effectiveness in promoting healthy dietary behaviors and weight.

 

The first review assessed the availability of healthy foods and beverages for lunch or snacks at school. The second examined the healthy options sold or offered in schools, such as at fundraisers, in vending machines, and at snack bars. The third review looked at a combination of the strategies examined in the first two reviews, and the fourth evaluated the access to safe, free drinking water in schools.

 

Studies were included in the review if the primary setting was in schools, programs or policies were aimed at obesity prevention or healthy weight promotion to the general student population, took place in kindergarten through high school, and reported a dietary or weight-related outcome estimated to be at least six months after the intervention program or policy began.

 

After filtering through over 27,000 studies, reviewers identified 54 studies that matched the criteria. Among these studies, they found evidence of effectiveness for preventing or maintaining healthy weight status with two intervention approaches:  improving the availability of healthy food and beverages for lunch or snacks at school, and multicomponent interventions including healthier meals and snacks.

 

Read more about the data extraction, the outcomes of interest, and the evidence of effectiveness in the full article, published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, July 2020 issue.


 

 

 

 

Wethington H, Finnie R, Buchanan L, Okasako-Schmucker D, Mercer S, Merlo C, Wang Y, Pratt C, Ochiai E, Glanz K, the Community Preventive Services Task Force. Healthier Food and Beverage Interventions in Schools: Four Community Guide Systematic Reviews. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, July 2020; 59(1): e15-e26.

 

COVID-19 Risk Perception, Knowledge, and Behaviors in 6 States

In May 2020, UPenn PRC Director, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, received one of the thirteen COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Grants from Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute. 

The study aim is to assess individuals’ risk perceptions, knowledge, and behaviors related to prevention of COVID-19, response to the pandemic, and psychological impacts of quarantine and/or diagnosis of COVID-19. Primary outcomes are: individuals’ behaviors, risk perceptions, knowledge, and behaviors related to prevention and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondary outcomes are: changes in risk perceptions, knowledge, and behaviors about the COVID-19 pandemic over time, by geographic area, and by personal experience with the disease.

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH

Principal Investigator:
Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH

John Holmes, PhD

Co-Investigator:
John Holmes, PhD

Penn’s Faculty respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

The world is changing daily and news outlets are trying to keep everyone informed with the latest updates, and the best strategies to combat the virus, with a captive audience as millions self-isolate.

The faculty at the University of Pennsylvania have stepped up to the microphone, to offer their expertise in how we as a community, both academic and medical, handle the population’s needs during this time.

Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute (Penn LDI) has created a website tracking the contributions to the press from affiliated faculty. The website lists the article with a link to the source, and the name of the faculty contributor. You can also follow their Twitter channel for the latest additions to the list.

One notable contribution is our own director’s, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH. Dr. Glanz was interviewed for an article in The Atlantic, focusing on getting exercise during social isolation.

Dr. Glanz encourages everyone to “stay as active as they can; it helps with feeling good; staying healthy and maintaining sanity.”

John H. Holmes, the UPenn PRC Evaluation Core Lead, gave an update from the University of Pavia in Italy, and Carolyn Cannuscio, our Community Engagement Core Lead, has been the voice of social distancing across all channels. She has been a valuable source for the media during this time, regarding social distancing and how it affects public health, as seen in this interview by Vox.

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Karen Glanz and Carmen Guerra co-authored an op-ed published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 14, 2020. The piece brings to light the racial disparities in care for people with COVID-19, from social distancing practices, to testing, and ultimately, to those who succumb to the virus. Read the article online or the pdf version.

Follow us on Twitter for the latest news from our center and our affiliated faculty.

 

UPenn PRC helps to accelerate implementation of evidence-based cancer prevention and control

The Evidence Academy model was developed to bring together researchers, health professionals, advocates, and policy makers to accelerate the process of integrating research findings into practice. The University of Pennsylvania Collaborating Center of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) assembled local and national experts in three different Evidence Academies (EAs) on the UPenn campus from 2015 to 2018. The EAs were used to present research and discuss barriers and solutions to topics that affect the health of our communities. An article describing three EAs and the lessons learned were just published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

The focus of the Evidence Academies were:
Prostate cancer (2015)
Food access, diet and obesity (2017)
Tobacco control science (2018)

The paper on these EAs is a part of a special supplemental issue, produced by the CPCRN which is funded by the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and the National Cancer Institute. The goal of the network is to reduce the impact of cancers that affects all communities, by connecting public health practitioners, policymakers, and others to the research and strategies found to be most effective. Twelve articles come from centers across the United States linked by a common cause, “reducing cancer burden in diverse populations.”

The cancer prevention and control research network: Accelerating the implementation of evidence-based cancer prevention and control interventions (Guest Editor Commentary). Leeman J, Glanz K, Hannon P, Shannon J.

An application of the Science Impact Framework to the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network from 2014-2018. Ko LK, Jang SH, Friedman DB, Glanz K, Leeman J, Hannon PA, Shannon J, Cole A, Williams R, Vu T.

*This issue is open access

Testing General Versus Specific Behavioral Focus in Messaging for the Promotion of Sun Protection Behaviors

Skin cancer prevention practices aim to reduce exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that  causes skin cancer. There are several behaviors that can protect the skin from the harmful radiation – using sunscreen, wearing hats and shirts, and seeking shade.  Researchers at Penn conducted an experiment with white men and women between the ages of 18 – 49 years old, to see if specific health communication messages would change their intentions to protect themselves from the sun. Researchers asked participants to watch videos, and then to report whether they would be more or less likely to use the protection method featured. They also viewed messages that contained more than one protective behavior.

The results of the experiment showed that messages which emphasized only one sun protection behavior with general sun safety messaging were more promising than those that focused on multiple behaviors.   In some cases, men and women responded differently. More women in the study felt strongly that they would miss out on activities if they applied sunscreen, but they felt positive about protecting their head and face from the sun by covering up. On the other hand, men more often felt they would miss out on activities if they sought shade.

Investigators did not see specific messages rising to the top in this study, and suggest that focusing on a single sun protection behavior initially would be more effective.  This is seen as a first step, as longer communication campaigns may be needed to achieve lasting changes. One viewing of a message about protection is not enough to change a person’s behavior when it comes to sun protection methods.

Read the full paper here.

Bleakley A, Jordan A, Strasser A, Lazovich D, Glanz K. Testing General Versus Specific Behavioral Focus in Messaging for the Promotion of Sun Protection Behaviors, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2019 Oct 4