A good way to reduce blood pressure levels and live longer is to get some sunshine, according to a new study.
The latest research on health benefits of sunshine was conducted by researchers from University of Edinburgh who found that exposure of skin to the sun cuts heart attack risks, lowers blood pressure and adds years to life.
The study was based on a small study sample of 24 people who were asked to sit under a tanning lamp for two sessions of 20 minutes each. In one of these sessions, the participants were exposed to both UV radiation and heat; while in the other session, participants were just exposed to heat and not to UV radiation.
Study results showed that blood pressure levels decreased in people when they were exposed to UV radiation plus heat, but not when they were exposed to heat alone.
The lowering of blood pressure post exposure to UV radiation has been attributed to the higher levels of nitric oxide in the body.
Researchers said that vitamin D levels didn't differ during the sessions. The study team also added that the benefits of lowering blood pressure outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer.
Previous research too has suggested that while long-term exposure to sunlight can be a link to skin cancer, there is greater risk of developing several diseases when people don't get enough sunlight.
The study is to be presented at The International Investigative Dermatology conference.
"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, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology at the University of Edinburgh, according to a news release.
"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," Weller added.
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