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Sun's UV rays cut blood pressure

09 May 2013 09:32

The sun's UV rays can reduce blood pressure, research has shown

The sun's UV rays can reduce blood pressure, research has shown

New research suggests the advantages of the sun in cutting blood pressure counteract skin cancer risks. Nitric oxide, a compound that reduces blood pressure, appears in the blood thanks to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, and Scottish researchers found the compound is linked to a drop in the threat of both heart attacks and stroke.

Experts from the University of Edinburgh took the blood pressure of 24 people who sat under UV lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes. In the first session, volunteers were exposed to the lamps' UV rays and heat, with the rays blocked in the second one so the skin was only exposed to the heat. Blood pressure fell significantly for an hour after exposure to UV rays but there was no change following the heat-only exposure.

Dr Richard Weller, senior lecturer in dermatology at the university, said the results suggested the advantages of sunlight to heart health "will outweigh the risk of skin cancer." He added: "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." The researchers said more investigations are needed but whether the guidelines on sun exposure are ultimately changed, the study is a useful reminder of the importance of medical travel insurance when heading for sunnier climes.