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To Screen or Not to Screen, Part II

Oct. 28, 2013|590 views
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Regular sunscreen use can prevent early photoaging; the wrinkles and other signs of visible damage related to sun exposure. If you follow the advice of virtually any dermatologist on the planet, you already avoid the sun like the plague. We’ve been indoctrinated to think that sun exposure is bad. Period. But a recent study by Scottish scientists suggests things aren’t that simple.

In fact, their work suggests that as creatures of the daylight, we were created to thrive in sunshine, not to avoid it altogether. The scientists showed that simple exposure to sunshine helps lower blood pressure significantly, and could even prolong life. And it’s not just because of the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D, which is made in the body in response to summer sunlight striking bare skin. Vitamin D is crucial not only for strong bones, but for a strong immune system, too. Many Americans have levels of vitamin D that are considered insufficient or even deficient.

But the Scottish researchers note that sunlight also sparks the creation of another crucial chemical we need to ensure wellbeing: nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a simple chemical compound with an array of important effects. Not the least of which is prompting the relaxation of the smooth muscles lining our blood vessels. When these muscles contract, blood pressure goes skyward. NO also helps prevent strokes, by discouraging blood platelets from forming clots.


The investigators pointed out that basking in sunshine improves overall health, and the benefits of lower blood pressure substantially outweigh any risks of skin cancer. That’s not just hyperbole. In the UK, where the study was conducted, it’s estimated that the risk of death from heart disease and stroke related to high blood pressure is 80 times greater than the risk of dying from skin cancer.  

NOTE: This article was first posted on 10/28/2013  It has since been edited, certain phrases and or words have been removed


Bauer V, Sotníková R. Nitric oxide--the endothelium-derived relaxing factor and its role in endothelial functions. Gen Physiol Biophys. 2010 Dec;29(4):319-40.

Sudano I, Spieker LE, Hermann F, Flammer A, Corti R, Noll G, et al. Protection of endothelial function: targets for nutritional and pharmacological interventions. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2006;47 Suppl 2:S136-50; discussion S172-6.

University of Edinburgh (2013, May 7). Sunshine could benefit health and prolong life, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from­ /releases/2013/05/130507195807.htm


Tags:  chemicals beware, cancer risks, vitamin d