Study: Benefits of sun exposure may outweigh risks
Sun exposure may help to reduce blood pressure, demonstrating that the benefits of exposure to UV rays may be greater than the risk of getting skin cancer, according to a proof-of-principle study.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, examined the impact of nitric oxide, which is released into the blood vessels when UV rays come in contact with skin, on blood pressure in two dozen participants, Medical News Today reports. The study participants sat under sunlamps for two 20-minute sessions, with their blood pressure monitored as they waited.
Participants were exposed to UV rays and heat from the lamps during one session, but received only heat and no UV exposure in the other session. Participants’ blood pressures fell and their heart rates rose in the session involving both UV rays and heat, according to the study abstract, but did not when exposed only to heat. Reduction in blood pressure lasted for less than an hour. There was no change in circulating vitamin D levels.
“Deaths from CVD (cardiovascular disease) and stroke are 60 to 100 times higher than from skin cancers in northern Europe,” study authors noted. “This study provides a mechanistic explanation for the inverse correlation between sunlight exposure and CVD mortality. Sunlight has beneficial effects independently of vitamin D synthesis.”
The findings were presented recently at the International Investigative Dermatology 2013 meeting in Edinburgh.