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Edinburgh University study suggests

UV sun rays lead to health benefits

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Edinburgh University research suggests sunlight helps reduce blood pressure, cutting heart attack and stroke risks and even prolonging life.

UV rays were found to release a compound which lowers blood pressure.Researchers said more studies would be carried out to determine if it is time to reconsider advice on skin exposure.

Heart disease and stroke linked to high blood pressure are estimated to lead to about 80-times more deaths than those from skin cancer in the UK.

Researchers said that until now vitamin D had been thought to solely explain the sun´s benefit to human health.

During the research, dermatologists studied the blood pressure of 24 volunteers under UV and heat lamps. In one session, the volunteers were exposed to both the UV rays and the heat of the lamps.In the other, the UV rays were blocked so that only the heat of the lamps affected the skin.

The results showed that blood pressure dropped significantly for one hour following exposure to UV rays, but not after the heat-only sessions. Scientists said that this suggested it was the sun´s UV rays that lead to health benefits.

The volunteers´ vitamin D levels remained unaffected in both sessions. Dr Richard Weller, a senior lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh University, said: "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.

"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."

Source: BBC News

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