Sunshine lowers blood pressure, heart attack and stroke risk
Researchers at Edinburgh University have now completed a number of studies into the benefits of sunshine on the body. In particilar they have been looking at how the sun promotes increases of nitric oxide (NO) in the body and how that chemical dilates blood vessels, thus reducing blood pressure and cardiovascular, heart attack and stroke risk.
The researchers studied the effects of UVA using sunbeds on 24 healthy people and noted that the effects were produced irrespective of vitamin D levels. In other words, these are benefits over and above any increase in vitamin D as a result of sunshine exposure.
Indeed Dr. Richard Weller who lead the team and who is a senior lecturer in dermatology at the University confirmed that
i) The benefits to heart health far outweighed the risks of skin cancer
ii) Heart disease and stroke lead to approximately 80 times more deaths than skin cancer in the UK
iii) Vitamin D supplementation thus cannot completely replicate the benefits of sunshine.
Further work since 2013 has identified an anti-microbial effect of sunshine on the skin producing nitric oxide from nitrates.
Weller has also shown that nitric oxide release also accounts for a reduced incidence of skin infections and pathogens in psoriasis.
Avoiding the sun is as bad as smoking
In another study lead by Dr. Pelle Lindqvist of the Karolinska Institute, women who avoided sunbathing had twice the risk of dying prematuresly than those who were avid sunbathers. Indeed, on studying smokers, the researchers concluded that avoiding the sun was as bad for your health as smoking!
Professor Martin Feelisch of Southampton University concurs. ‘It’s time to reassess the balance of risk between skin cancer and cardiovascular disease’. He believes that avoiding sunshine or using sunblock could be another risk factor for cardiovascular disease!
Readers can find out more about the benefits of sunshine, and the Sun Safe campaign by clicking this link.