Sunbathing

Good news for all you sun worshippers: Researchers out of Scotland’s University of Endinburgh have found that sun exposure may also help reduce the risks of high blood pressure and certain heart health issues including strokes and heart attack. It may even extend your life.

The study followed 24 subjects who spent 22 minutes under a tanning sun lamp. While there are risks associated with UV exposure—from both exposure to the sun or tanning beds—the researchers found that when UV rays were not blocked, the subjects’ blood pressure dropped notably for at least one hour after being exposed. When the UV rays were blocked, and subjects were just exposed to the heat from the lamps, there was no change to blood pressure.

The researchers theorize that the UV light exposure causes the production of nitric oxide—a compound that has been shown to lower blood pressure. Vitamin D, which is synthesized by the human body after sun exposure, has long bee thought of as the primary nutritive benefit of regular sun exposure. But, according to the research, whether or not UV rays were blocked did not alter vitamin D levels in the subjects.

And for people concerned about the risk of sun cancer, study author Dr. Richard Weller, a senior lecturer in dermatology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a press release that the number of deaths from heart attack and stroke far outweigh those related to 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.”

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Image: Reinis Traidas