Sun Lovers- Rejoice!


I, like many others, absolutely dread the winter. It's miserable. It's cold, ugly, and worst of all- sunless. The only thing to look forward to in my mind is Christmas, and after that I'm ready for winter to end and summer to begin. I'm even partially convinced I suffer from seasonal depression. Summer, unlike winter, is filled with all the things I love- warmth, sand, ocean, day longs, and the sun.

Unfortunately, we all know the side effects of too much sun can be severe- skin cancer, sun poisoning, wrinkles, mottled pigmentation, benign tumors..... the list goes on. All evidence points to tanning being bad for you. You're warned (with good reason) to avoid tanning beds, reapply your sunscreen, and cover up.

However, according to a new study from dermatologists at the University of Edinburgh, there are benefits as well.

The study took   24 volunteers in their early 20s under UV  lamps for 20 minutes and then measured their blood pressure. Then, the repeated the process was repeated with just a heat lamp (the UV rays were blocked).

What they found was positive; after volunteers had been placed under the UV lamps, they had a lower blood pressure. After sitting under the heat lamp, however, there was no change. In other words, this suggests that sunlight lowers your blood pressure, therefore decreasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

They researchers provide a biological mechanism: when our skin is exposed to the sun's rays, a compound (nitric oxide) is released in our blood vessels, helping lower blood pressure.

Okay- so 24 people isn't a whole lot, but it's a start- the research pull next time will have to be larger, and possibly study analyze the results on other age ranges . Overall, more research must be done."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," says Dr Richard Weller, leader of the research team. "If this confirms that sunlight reduces the death rate from all causes, we will need to reconsider our advice on sun exposure."

This doesn't mean go sunbathing for hours without sunscreen, but it's a reason for people to fear the sun less (and maybe even a reason for the FDA to loosen tanning bed restrictions). Keep in mind, heart disease and stroke linked to high blood pressure cause roughly 80 times more deaths than skin cancer in the UK.

"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," said Weller.



I liked this article because it's nice hearing the other side of this argument for a change- the benefits of the sun. This article from WebMD ( talks about seasonal affective disorder and how the change of seasons into winter and disappearance of the sun is linked to depression in people. It seems completely logical to me that darker and colder days bring out depression in people, especially after reading your article about how sunlight lowers blood pressure. So while it definitely could be a mental thing for a lot of people, it's interesting to know that sunlight has an internal affect on people, and better yet a positive affect!

I found this article to be very interesting because I just wrote a blog on seasonal depression and these two things are very similar. Both seasonal depression and UV lamps give off the sunlight that some people need to feel a certain happiness. Although there are many similarities, one thing that sunlight does not do to those suffering from SAD is lower your blood pressure. If they are both so similar, I wonder how sunlight can effect people so differently. You also said that everyone that was under the UV lamp felt this effect, but with SAD, only certain people suffer from this disorder. I also found it interesting that when heat lamps without UV rays were used, people did not feel as calm as when UV rays were used. When helping those who suffer from SAD, heat lamps were used and were proven to be successful, so I am curious as to why this is. Below is an article that talks a little bit more about UV lamps, and all the benefits they have.

You definitely did a lot of research on the subject! I'm just curious to know of more studies being done on this as someone who is vitamin D deficient. I love the beach, but avoid the sun at all costs because I burn so easily. It's also interesting that the study was done in the UK. I wonder if it would have the same results under a Florida or SoCal sunbathing session. It's also crazy to think that this may "outweigh the risk of skin cancer." All we ever hear is how dangerous the sun can be, and now this study may suggest otherwise!

It is nice to hear someone talking about the benefits of sun exposure instead of the risks! As long as sunscreen is used properly, sun exposure is quite beneficial. This article does a nice job of explaining the scientific findings of what sun exposure does. After reading your blog post, and this article which analyzes the results of various studies, I can say that I still will spend my time sunbathing and enjoying the beach, with sunscreen of course.

I really like that I see benefits in sun exposure because I am ADDICTED to the sun and being tan. If I am not laying out and frying myself, I find myself in the tanning bed. I am aware that this is extremely bad for you, although i knew there had to be some benefits. I have heard that dermatologists sometimes use tanning beds to help cure an individual's skin. Sometimes all an individual needs is the vitamin d in sunlight to help clear up their acne. There are probably more benefits to this than we think!
Here is an article on dermotologists and tanning beds:

Having grown up down the street from the beach my whole life, I fall into the same boat as most of you. I love the sun and the summer time more than most people. However, I have never, nor would ever, use a tanning bed. Exposure to UV rays is obviously harmful for the skin, which is why I limit my tanning season to the summertime. The release of nitric oxide and vitamin d in the body during a tanning session makes people feel great and turn sun lovers into addicts. Most everything is best in moderation and sunbathing definitely applies to this. This being said, seasonal depression hits me hard. Despite this feeling, I stray away from the tanning bed and stick to all natural sun light. Anyways, I will be going to Barbados over christmas break so I don't have to make it until summer to get my fix.

I just like you absolutely dread the winter. The cold, snow, and ice are not for me. Summer, however, is also a rather hard time for my body. Because I have darker skin, I'm advised by many people to stay out of the sun because my skin burns and becomes dry rather quickly. Recovering from tan lines and burns is also not an attractive process. However, I'm glad that there is reason to stay out more. I love that you did a good amount of research and explained exactly how the sun exposure influences blood pressure. I also looked up additional effects that exposure to the sun can have on blood pressure. Because of the increase of Vitamin D in the body, stress is also reduced. However, Vitamin D can be obtained by supplements as well.

Sounds like you're pretty interested in the subject! This will pertain to girls all over. My aunt has very dark skin and loved to tan but did eventually develop skin cancer. I was not sure about her blood pressure but I know the cancer was a struggle. I'm not sure if the lower blood pressure is worth the risk of skin disease. Also disease later on down the road and wrinkles are a side effect. I'm not saying don't lay out in the sun but definitely monitor it. Everyone loves to lay on the beach but don't use lower blood pressure as an excuse to stay out there for hours.

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