A new study has suggested that exposing skin to sunlight may help reduce blood pressure, cut the risk of heart attack and stroke – and even prolong life.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have shown that when our skin is exposed to the sun’s rays, a compound is released in our blood vessels that helps lower blood pressure.
The findings suggest that exposure to sunlight improves health overall, because the benefits of reducing blood pressure far outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer.Production of this pressure-reducing compound – called nitric oxide – is separate from the body`s manufacture of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to sunshine. Until now it had been thought to solely explain the sun’s benefit to human health, the scientists added.
“We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight,” said Dr Richard Weller of the University of Edinburgh.