Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First


Sun Exposure

Should we be supplementing vitamin D for cancer prevention?

It’s approaching that time of year again that the clocks go back. This is a timely reminder that once the days become shorter in length we should start taking an oral vitamin D supplement of 10mcg. The body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and surprise surprise we don’t see enough sunshine during winter in Scotland, that’s why it’s important to supplement daily from October to March. Vitamin D is also found naturally in some foods, such as oily fish, eggs and mushrooms, and is often added to others including dairy and some cereals. It is difficult to know exactly how much vitamin D we eat from foods, so supplementing is a more reliable option (See previous blog You can have your vitamin D and eat it for tips on how to eat more vitamin D food sources).

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Sunshine ahead :)

Sunshine ahead, summer days, holiday fun is just around the corner! You’re probably looking forward to your favourite warm-weather activities – cycling, picnics, even eating al fresco – but let’s not forget suncare! Skin cancer cases continue to rise in Scotland in both men and women (Public Health Scotland 2020) but this can be prevented by protecting our skin from dangerous UV exposures. 

We asked Professor Colin Fleming, consultant dermatologist at Ninewells hospital and Medical School to answer some of the myths around sun protection.

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Scottish Summer Skin – #StaycationHealth

On a sunny day in Scotland – why would you want to be anywhere else? Dark corners are lit, spirits rise and the outdoors beckons. Sunshine is undoubtedly good for our minds and bodies but like many good things, excess exposure can easily tip the balance from good health to poor health.

Sunshine tops up our vitamin D levels which is important for bone health but it also tops the risk factor list for developing skin cancer. These neoplasms are the most common form of cancer in Scotland and include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell cancer and malignant melanoma. Rates are rising (17.9% in 10 years) and notably for malignant melanoma which is the 5th most common cancer in Scotland.

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The causes of cancer: implications for policy and practice

Professor Richard Martin, University of Bristol

Around 1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime (Cancer Research UK). Over 40% of cancers are linked to a combination of 14 major lifestyle and environmental factors that are potentially preventable. The Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme (ICEP) uses cutting edge statistical methods and genetic data on 10s to 100s of thousands of people to provide high quality evidence on: the causes of cancers; factors influencing the progression of cancer; new ways to predict who will develop or die from these cancers; and new ways to prevent cancer and its progression. 

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Here comes summer…with a warning!

It’s cold outside just now. But the days are getting longer and lighter. Thoughts will be turning to the joys of outdoor activities including (possibly unhealthy and alcoholic) barbeques and sun bathing. Also at this time of year, many book their summer holidays in warmer climes, looking forward to rest and relaxation in the sun. Maybe some lucky ones are going abroad for Easter. Continue reading “Here comes summer…with a warning!”

Medical student: What the 12 codes against cancer taught me about cancer prevention

During first year of medical school, I walked in to my nutrition tutorial eating chocolate buttons and I was told off by the person undertaking the session. I proceeded to place the chocolate in my bag, listen to how we need to eat our “five a day” and minimise sugar intake and then left the class to finish off my chocolate. During the first three years of medical school, we are taught about a long list of conditions that result from an unhealthy lifestyle. This comes in contrast with the very little teaching we get on lifestyle modification. So, if my teaching on this topic is limited, how am I expected to embrace this lifestyle myself and subsequently deliver it effectively to my patients? Continue reading “Medical student: What the 12 codes against cancer taught me about cancer prevention”

Just Visiting – A Cancer Prevention Perspective in Perth

In May, I was delighted to find myself leaving Perth, Scotland, to spend a couple of week in Perth, Western Australia (WA). Like many others, I found myself making comparisons between the two locations, although unlike others, my focus was cancer prevention activities. My time in WA was carefully scheduled by the Cancer Council WA, an organisation that “works within the community to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer,” with a strong and visible stream of work on cancer prevention as well as mainstream activities around early detection measures, supporting cancer patients and education for health professionals. In WA, around 180 cancer council staff provide a service for a population of 2.5 million people, of which about 45 focus on prevention and early detection. Hard to see a comparison with any one Scottish cancer charity in numbers alone, and none with any paid staff time working on prevention.

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