Exposing skin to sunlight may provide greater health benefits than the risk of skin cancer, according to scientists.
Sunlight is most often linked to skin cancer
Researchers from Edinburgh University suggest that sunlight helps lower your blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes and even prolong life.
Dr Richard Weller, a senior lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh University, said: "We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer.
Previous medical advice suggests that exposure to sunlight can increase your chances of developing skin cancer. This is true, however statistics show that you are 80 times more likely to die from heart disease or stroke than skin cancer.
The research found that UV rays released a compound, nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure.
Nitric oxide has pressure-reducing qualities which is in addition to the increase in Vitamin D that was previously thought to be the only health benefit from sunlight.
According to the British Heart Foundation, heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK.
The study consisted of analysing the blood pressure of 24 volunteers who were exposed to UV and heat lamps.
Results showed that during the session when only half the group were exposed to UV rays their blood pressure dropped significantly for an hour afterwards.
Weller said: "We now plan to look at the relative risks of heart disease and skin cancer in people who have received different amounts of sun exposure.
"If this confirms that sunlight reduces the death rate from all causes, we will need to reconsider our advice on sun exposure."
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© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013