The cardiovascular impact of sunlight — reducing blood pressure by triggering the release of nitric oxide from the skin — outweighs any potential risk factors of exposure, researcher Dr. Richard Weller writes in a new paper published in the journal Blood Purification. Weller pioneered research on the subject in 2013.
Here are some of the key statements from the new paper:
“All-cause mortality should be the primary determinant of public health messages. Sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, but sun avoidance may carry more of a cost than benefit for overall good health.”
“For the general white-skinned population, sunlight is the major preventable risk factor for skin cancers, but the pattern of sun exposure varies with cancer type. Intermit- tent sun exposure and sunburn, particularly in childhood, increase the risk of melanoma, whereas chronic occupational exposure may be protective”
“Dose dependently, the higher the sun-seeking behaviour, the lower the all-cause mortality, with those scoring 4 having half the mortality of sun- avoiders. Extrapolating from these data, the authors calculate that 3% of deaths in Sweden can be accounted for by inadequate sun.”
“Importantly, vitamin D is not solely responsible for these proposed health benefits of sunshine. Supplementation with oral vitamin D is not adequate to reduce cardiovascular disease. Alternative mechanisms must exist to account for these benefits of sunlight.”
“Ultraviolet therapy might well have a therapeutic role beyond the treatment of skin disease.”
“Public health advice on sunlight exposure is at the crossroads. Almost a century of data has confirmed the carcinogenic effects of UV radiation on the skin, and delineated the mechanisms by which this occurs. There is however a remarkable absence of any evidence that UV reduces lifespan, in sharp contrast to other risk factors (e.g. hypertension, smoking, alcohol) on which we advise. A substantial body of evidence shows that sunlight has health benefits and that these are independent of vitamin D and thus cannot be reproduced by oral supplementation. The UV-induced reduction of cutaneous nitrate and its export to the systemic vasculature, which I have helped delineate, is an additional mechanism by which sunlight may exert beneficial effects on health, but other mechanisms surely exist. All-cause mortality and its reduction should be the primary aim of physicians, not the narrow avoidance of skin cancer.”
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