Published on 21/01/2014
Sunlight may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure, according to a British study.
Sunshine in moderation has health benefits
The research may prompt a review on the advice given regarding the risks and benefits of sunbathing. The link between overexposure from ultraviolet light and the increased risk of skin cancer is well documented but avoiding the sun altogether could promote the chances cardiovascular disease.
A study conducted by the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton investigated of nitric oxide (NO) found in the skin and the blood.
This molecule is involved in the regulation of blood pressure and when exposed to sunlight can dilate blood vessels in the body and significantly lower blood pressure.
The research was reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and was led, in part, by Professor Martin Freelisch of the University of Southampton.
Prof Freelisch said: “As blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke. It may be an opportune time to reassess the risks and benefits of sunlight for human health and to take a fresh look at current public health advice.”
Health experts estimate that nearly one in three British adults have high blood pressure – one of the biggest factors leading to stroke or heart attack. There are more than 160,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the UK each year. Cardiovascular disease can be caused by an inactive lifestyle, poor diet or being overweight.
There are fewer than 3,000 people develop skin cancer in the UK and any method that helps reduce the risk of heart disease, such as sunlight exposure, may be beneficial to reducing deaths in the UK.
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