Public health news in brief

Keep fit for mental health

Just 20 minutes of any physical activity, including housework, in a week is enough to boost mental health, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has concluded. The survey of 20,000 people found a range of activities proved beneficial, including housework, gardening, walking, and sports, although the strongest effect was seen for sports, which lowered the risk of distress by a third.

Alcoholics failed by NHS

The NHS is failing to deliver adequate treatment for dependent drinkers, the charity Alcohol Concern has said in a report. It found a massive variation in the quality of support offered around the country, with the emphasis on ‘binge’ drinking meaning chronic drinkers are often overlooked.

Genetic back pain link

Interim results from an ongoing study have suggested that back pain could be caused by genetics rather than physical strain. The Twin Spine Study, an ongoing research project started in 1991, is being carried out by researchers from Canada, Finland, the US and UK. It is supported by the Arthritis Research Campaign.

Sunbed cancer risk

Eight in 10 sunbed users have increased their risk of catching malignant melanoma by around three-quarters, according to the charity Cancer Research UK. The survey of 4,000 people found 82% first soaked up the artificial tan-enhancing rays before they were 35, the age where – according to the International Agency for Research into Cancer – risk could be increased by up to three-quarters.

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