New research is a ray of sunshine
Great news for all us sun-worshippers !
The findings have come from Edinburgh University where researchers have discovered a link between sunlight and reduced blood pressure, which means fewer heart attack and stroke risks and even a prolonged life.
Low blood pressure
UV rays were found to release a compound that lowers blood pressure. And researchers say that more studies will now be carried out to determine if it is time to reconsider advice on skin exposure.
Production of the pressure-reducing compound, nitric oxide, is separate from the body’s manufacture of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to sunshine.
Researchers said that until now vitamin D production had been considered the sole benefit of the sun to human health.
During the research, dermatologists studied the blood pressure of 24 volunteers under UV and heat lamps.
In one session, the volunteers were exposed to both UV rays and the heat of the lamps.
In the other, the UV rays were blocked so that only the heat affected the skin.
The results showed that blood pressure dropped significantly for an hour after exposure to UV rays, but not after the heat-only sessions.
Scientists said that this suggested it was the sun’s UV rays that brought health benefits.
The volunteers’ vitamin D levels remained unaffected in both sessions.
‘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.
“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.”
The study is being presented tomorrow in Edinburgh at the world’s largest gathering of skin experts, the International Investigative Dermatology conference.
So, let’s get out there and get some rays. Remember to be sensible though and try to avoid the intense heat and sun at the hottest part of the day – usually between 11am and 3pm. Take a tip from our European cousins and go for a little siesta!
Wear eye protection and make sure you have a floppy hat to hand! Also remember to keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Keep an eye on children in the sun too as they feel the effects more quickly than adults.
Now, time to dig out that sun lounge from the back of the garage!
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