Under the Texan Sun

Writer-at-large Jim Atkinson on protecting yourself against skin cancer, checking suspicious-looking moles, and how he researches health topics.

texasmonthly.com: How do you decide on the topic for your “Minister of Health” column each month?

Jim Atkinson: I usually try to satisfy two requirements—timeliness and regional topicality—and go from there. Hence, I wrote about flu in January, allergies in May (one allergy season in Texas), and now skin cancer just as it’s starting to get hot down here. I’m not always able to find something seasonal, and many intriguing subjects are, by definition, not just regional. For example, in September, I’ll probably write about presbyopia—middle-aged far sightedness that requires reading glasses. But that’s how I try to edit ideas as things occur to me or come over the transom.

texasmonthly.com: Is it hard fitting all your advice onto one page? Why or why not?

JA: Yes. Please write my editors and demand more space! Actually, the way I’ve come to look at it, any hack can write 2,500 words about skin cancer;

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