Feeling Pale and Pasty?!

Feeling pale and pasty? Feel like a quick visit to the tanning salon to use the sun bed? Think again….

Recent research published in the British Medical Journal has shown evidence that the increase in use of artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation such as indoor tanning devices like sun beds is associated with an increase in risk  of the 3 main skin cancers including malignant melanoma, an aggressive form. This risk is increased if the first exposure to artificial UV radiation is before the age of 35 yrs.

The authors of the study estimated that 3438 cases of malignant melanoma could be prevented each year in Western Europe by avoiding exposure to indoor tanning. The World Health Organisation has now classified tanning beds as a group 1 carcinogen alongside tobacco smoking and asbestos.

Still feeling pale and pasty? Feel like planning a holiday somewhere hot and sunny? Think again…..

It has long been recognised that excessive exposure of the skin to the direct UVA and UVB rays of direct sunlight increases the risk of developing skin cancers of all types. Episodes of sunburn greatly increase this risk as skin cells that are damaged are at greater risk of becoming abnormal and cancerous.

Take measures to be ‘sun safe’

Avoid the sun when the sun is strongest in the middle of the day.

Cover up when you are out in direct sunshine for a prolonged time.

Use high factor sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection and reapply it regularly.

Still feeling pale and pasty? There is an answer……

Opt for a spray tan and take a walk, quite literally, on the sunny side of the street. Exposure to a moderate amount of direct sunlight is actually beneficial.

Vitamin D is vital for good health, growth and strong bones and is made in the skin with the help of sunlight. We also get a small amount from the foods we eat (oily fish, egg yolk and fortified foods eg. some breakfast cereals).

To prevent deficiency of Vitamin D it is estimated that we need 2 to 3 sun exposures per week in the summer months (April to September), lasting 20-30 mins, to bare arms and face. This needs to be in direct sunlight and not through a window. This is not the same as suntanning and sunburn should be avoided at all costs.

How can we help?

If you have any new or changing skin lesions, and particularly if you have been a heavy user of indoor tanning and sun beds, or have a history of multiple episodes of sunburn, the doctors at the Students’ Health Service

would be very keen to take a look at them. The earlier any skin cancer is caught, the better the outcome of treatment.

Further information:

Sunsmart- www.cancerresearchuk.org/sunsmart

Sun Awareness Fact sheet- www.bad.org.uk/site/734/default.aspx

Sun and Health- www.patient.co.uk/health/sun-and-health


BMJ 6 October 2012 Volume 345.

Editorial p7, Research p14/15, Personal View p31

Online resources for medical matters

For someone who never went to medical school Dr Google seems to be an incredibly popular and sought after ‘specialist’.  A significant number of people will turn to the internet for information and advice before seeking professional help, and this is a good idea in the right context. There are some fantastic resources out there, and so I thought it might be helpful to list a few of them, to improve the quality of the results our patients are getting when they go online, and to save time for those who get drawn into elaborate and complex searches featuring more and more worrying symptoms and diagnoses!

First off, a safe and reliable place to start for all medical queries;


Next up, for info on local services, how the NHS can help, conditions, and health costs;


And for travel advice


Lastly for mental health advice and support;

www.mind.org.uk  or


which is an award-winning online mental wellbeing service. It offers the first online pathway for mental health and wellbeing, placing people at the centre of their own care.  It enables people to access well governed, safe therapeutic services through self-referral from the comfort of their own homes.


The NHS has also realised the need for a reliable single source of credible and safe online resources and has recently launched its Health Apps Library, at last month’s NHS Healthcare Innovation Expo in London.

Here at SHS we are particularly interested in the ‘Patient Access’ App, as we already have the online facility allowing our patients to book appointments and re order repeat prescriptions via the internet, but it would be brilliant to have a phone app too, making it potentially even simpler. We will be looking into how to adopt this app, but it is something that the local health community may need to fund, so watch this space.

The Sound Doctor App; An Audio app which enables patients to listen to information about their long term conditions and therefore help them look after themselves more easily and get the best out of life.Leading doctors, nurses, patients and other relevant health professionals have been interviewed to provide a really comprehensive look at a number of long term conditions.All the information is presented in short chapters of between 3 and 5 minutes each with several interviewees in each chapter.

ActiveMe App; Developed by NHS experts in CFS/ME, activity record charts are widely used to help patients and
practitioners work together to develop a daily baseline of energy use before increasing it in regular steps
to enable you to achieve your goals.Fast, easy, portable and discreet, ActiveME can help you balance your activities.

Type 1 Diabetes (Alcohol guide) App; Having type 1 diabetes means that it is important to know how to keep safe when having alcohol. This guide aims to help you find out what to do to keep safe and how alcohol can affect your body.This App has been designed based on ideas and suggestions provided during the qualitative interviewing of young people with type 1 diabetes aged between 18 and 21. It has been developed in collaboration with the Poole Hospital Diabetes Centre in the UK for use by their patients.

PillManager App; helps you manage your medications, never forget them, and also helps with re ordering them too.

These are just a few to get you thinking.

See our website for loads more Useful Links



Art and Wellbeing


Art and Wellbeing by Dr Emma Webb

Appreciation of beauty is a part of maintaining happiness whether you find it in the arts, the natural world, human connections or other experiences. It has a positive effect on our sense of well being. Appreciation of art can enrich us through its message whether that is political, sociological or psychological or more simply via its direct emotional effect.

There is a broad spectrum of evidence to show how the arts achieve positive outcomes for patients, for staff, for the patient-staff relationship, for hospitals, mental health services and in the health of the general population.

In healthcare environments the experiences of patients and staff can be improved by artwork. Participation in the arts can be a valuable tool for improving one’s own physical, social and emotional wellbeing. Arts are now used in medical training to gain insight into patient health and to explore ethical issues as well as being used as a psychotherapeutic treatment for mental health problems.

Visiting Bristol Museum and ArtGallery recently, I was particularly drawn to the sculpture ‘A Ton of Tea’ by the Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. It is unexpected and as well as its political symbolism, also has an amazing texture and fragrance when you get close to it.

The ‘Sands of Time’ by David Maitland is a beautifully colourful photographic depiction of the skeletal remains of sea invertebrates found in a sample of sand – fascinating, microscopic beauty.

Back at Students’ Health Service we are looking forward to enhancing our own surroundings with the addition of some artwork to our walls. I hope that it will be engaging, interesting and enjoyable for all our visitors.


You can visit;

BristolMuseum and ArtGallery – ‘No Borders’ contemporary art in a globalised world. Free exhibition until June 2013

BristolMuseum and ArtGallery – Wildlife Photographer of the Year


Sit less, Move more!

Ignoring your parents, and other ways to save your life

by John Wilford


“Don’t do that”

“Put that down”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full”

 Familiar ‘instructions’ heard by kids, of all ages.  Now the truly disgusting ones…

 “Sit down!”

“Sit still!”

 Mum, you got it so wrong.

 If you are reading this sitting down, please, get up. Standing comfortably? Then we’ll begin…

 Sitting is killing us.  It has become a ‘goto’ topic for the BBC on slow news days, and a recent article on the Harvard Business Review blog condemns sitting as our generation’s smoking.  There is an increasing body of evidence, generated by clever academic types on both sides of the Atlantic, showing just how bad sitting is for us.

Research in the USA shows people spending more time sitting (9.3 hours per day) than asleep (7.7 hours).  Like it or not, the UK is in the same ballpark.

Add up the time spent sat at your desk, in the library, in lectures, seminars, meetings and tutorials.  Time spent sat in the car or on the bus. Then there’s ‘leisure sitting’ – watching TV, at the computer or games console.  Sitting, just sitting. Oh, sit.

Further research suggests that if you sit for more than 6 hours a day, you are 40% more likely to die within the next 15 years than someone sitting for just 3 hours.  The bombshell is that this is true even if you exercise. Sedentary behaviour (sitting/lying whilst awake) is not just a lack of physical activity; it’s bad in its own right. As soon as you sit down, your leg muscles switch off, calorie burn drops to 1 per minute and after 2 hours your ‘good cholesterol’ has dropped 20%.  Whether you are an exerciser or not.  Higher rates of sedentary behaviour correlate with greater risk of mortality, independent of levels of physical activity. 

Sitting is a habit – and a bad one.  Like smoking, or biting your nails (Sorry Mum…).  It’s automatic and easy.  But it is a habit that can be broken. 

Look at what makes you sit, and where and when you could do without it.  On the phone? Stand up.  Having a short meeting? Ignore the chairs. On the laptop? Raise it up and stand (use window sills, cabinets, even the ironing board). This is before we even get to walking more – park your car further away from destination, take the stairs not the lift, etc etc…..

Yes, there are times that you will need to sit.  But limit it.  Get up and move around frequently. Swap standing and moving for sitting wherever possible.


Take a stand against sitting – sit less, move more.