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Sunshine Exposure Prolongs Life

A study from the University of Edinburgh shows exposing skin to the sun’s rays releases a compound in the blood vessels which helps to reduce blood pressure, alleviates the risk for heart attack and stroke, and improves overall health.In the United Kingdom, heart disease and stroke due to high blood pressure are estimated to cause 80 times more deaths than from skin cancer.

A group of 24 volunteers were exposed to tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each.  In one session, the volunteers were exposed to the UV rays and the heat of the lamps while in another session, the skin was exposed to the heat of the lamps only while the UV rays were blocked.  After one hour of exposure to UV rays the blood pressure of the volunteers dropped significantly.  On the other hand, no decrease in blood pressure was noted after the heat-only session.  The scientists concluded that the sun’s UV rays led to the health benefits.

The findings suggest that the production of this blood pressure-reducing compound called nitric oxide is distinct from the body’s natural manufacture of vitamin D, which needs exposure to sunlight for it to increase.

The benefits to the heart from the sunlight are believed to outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer, says Dr. Richard Weller, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology at the University of Edinburgh. He believes that their findings provide an explanation on why vitamin D supplements alone may not compensate for lack of sunlight. The investigators plan to look into the effects of different amounts of sun exposure on the risks of heart disease, skin cancer, and death rate from all causes.



University of Edinburgh. Sunshine could benefit health and prolong life, study suggests. ScienceDaily.


Posted in: Longevity, News Briefs

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