Just 20 minutes of sunlight lowers blood pressure, according to a new European study.
In fact, the effects are so strong that it may explain why people in the north, who get less sun, have higher death rates from heart disease, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Southampton, who conducted the study.
The scientists say sunlight lowers blood pressure by increasing levels of nitric oxide, a chemical linked to blood flow. Researchers say they are concerned that worries about skin cancer may actually be causing heart deaths as people avoid the sun or block it with sunscreens.
"We are concerned that well-meaning advice to reduce the comparatively low numbers of death from skin cancer may inadvertently increase the risk of death from far higher prevalent cardiovascular disease and stroke, and go against epidemiological data showing that sunlight exposure reduces all cause and cardiovascular mortality," they wrote in the study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
In study volunteers, sunlight lowered blood pressure by about five points and the effects lasted a half hour.
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