Researcher at the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh in Britain found that sunlight alters levels of nitric oxide (NO) – the small messenger molecule in the skin and blood – reducing blood pressure.
“Nitric oxide, known to be abundant in skin, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of NO are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone,” said Martin Feelisch, professor of experimental medicine and integrative biology at University of Southampton.
“As blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke,” he added in a press release issued by the university.
According to Richard Weller of University of Edinburgh, while limiting sunlight exposure is important to prevent skin cancer, minimising exposure may be disadvantageous by increasing the risk of prevalent conditions related to cardiovascular disease.
During the study, the skin of 24 healthy individuals was exposed to ultraviolet (UVA) light from tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each.
In one session, the volunteers were exposed to both the UVA rays and the heat of the lamps.
In another, the UV rays were blocked so that only the heat of the lamps affected the skin.
The results suggest that UVA exposure dilates blood vessels, significantly lowers blood pressure, and alters NO metabolite levels in the circulation, without changing vitamin D levels.
“These results are significant to the ongoing debate about potential health benefits of sunlight and the role of Vitamin D in this process,” said professor Feelisch.
According to a latest study, 70 percent of the urban Indian population is at risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease owing to sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and stress.
Cardiovascular disease, often associated with high blood pressure, accounts for 30 percent of deaths globally each year.