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Study: Sunlight can help with high blood pressure

PHOENIX — Researchers from the University of Edinburgh say you should spend more time in the sun if you’ve got high blood pressure.

After running tests on two dozen volunteers and exposing the subjects to ultraviolet lights, according to the researchers’ study, there was a drop in blood pressure.

According to the University, “Researchers studied the blood pressure of 24 volunteers who sat beneath tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each. 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 say that this shows that it is the sun’s UV rays that lead to health benefits. The volunteers’ vitamin D levels remained unaffected in both sessions.”

Dr. Shannon Scott of Midwestern University Clinic in Glendale is skeptical about the health benefits described by the researchers of this study.

“It does relax the blood vessels, it causes a drop in blood pressure, but it did not show a lasting effect,” Scott said.

She added that one has to look at the risks, which are high with prolonged exposure to this type of light.

“Exposure to ultraviolet radiation or ultraviolent light, whether it’s coming from a tanning bed or sunlight, the risk of skin cancer is very, very high.”

Meanwhile, the author of the British study, Dr. Richard Weller, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology, offered the following on the the university’s website:

“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.”