It’s well known that sunshine is our major source of vitamin D, the lack of rays has been associated with forms of depression and osteoporosis. Too much is the main cause of skin cancer, it’s a tricky business this sunshine thing, even in Australia where we have a pretty steady flow of the stuff.
New research out of the UK suggests that short bursts of sunlight could help lower blood pressure. According to British scientist, Professor Martin Feelisch from the University of Southampton, sunlight triggers natural stores of nitric oxide in the skin that dilate the small blood vessels.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation, and high blood pressure is one of the main associated risk factors. Although Professor Feelisch admits the study was small, he’s confident the results would be replicated with a larger group ::::
“We found when we exposed [the subjects’] skin to UV light on one side of the body in amounts that would correspond to roughly half an hour of sunshine during summer in southern Europe, that we find a lower blood pressure,” Professor Feelisch said.
Professor Feelisch says the phenomenon is due to UV-A rays rather than UV-B rays, which stimulate the body’s production of vitamin D.
“Something in the upper layer of the skin can be released by light into the circulation to also affect blood pressure and this is … independent of vitamin D,” he said.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation, and high blood pressure is one of the main associated risk factors.
Professor Feelisch’s study was small but he is confident results would be replicated with a larger group.
“While we appreciate that excess sunlight carries a very real risk to develop skin cancer, too little may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease by elevating blood pressure,” he said. “If you look at the numbers, we’re talking about 20 times higher numbers of chronic disease mortality of cardiovascular disease compared to death as a consequence of melanoma.”
Heart Foundation national director Dr Robert Grenfell says Australians do not need more than 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight every day.
“We have far too much sun exposure over the whole year,” Dr Grenfel said. “Unfortunately a lot of our northern American and European dwellers don’t actually get enough sunlight and so, for them, this is an important message. For the average Australian, we really should be limiting our exposure to sunlight to decrease our chances of skin cancer.”
The research appears in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
REBLOG! Sunshine, How Much Do You Need?
Most Australians consider ourselves to be outdoorsy types. We’re a nation of sun-drenched, beach dwelling, bronzed Paul Hogans and Chips Raffertys. But this national image is a mirage – the reality is we don’t get out as much as we could – or should.
Long working hours, the shift to service industries (often office-based), the decline in outdoor activities, the rise in popularity of screen games and computers all mean that we’re spending more and more time indoors, out of the sun.
Sunlight is the major source of vitamin D in our bodies (about 90 per cent) and studies show fallling levels of Vitamin D in our bodies because of the time we spend indoors.
Low vitamin D levels can cause osteoporosis, a condition in which our bones lose calcium, become brittle and are susceptible to fracture. And it’s also been linked with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, bowel cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and lymphoma.
Studies suggest that between about a third and a half of Australians have at least marginal vitamin D deficiency.
Some groups in the community have more serious vitamin D deficiency; people with dark skin, people who are elderly, housebound, bedridden, and women of the Islamic faith who cover their skin :: Read Peter Lavelle’s full post »»»»
RELATED! Australia’s War on Sugar
In Australia the war on obesity is heating up, three major health organisations want a sugar tax on all sweetened beverages – not just soft drinks, but products like flavoured milk and sports drinks – to limit consumption and curb what is shaping up to be the nations biggest health problem.
However, Australia’s Food and Grocery Council – the body representing the food and beverage industry – is hitting back against health campaigns aimed at reducing sugar consumption, prompting critics to compare the industry’s position to that of tobacco companies fight against smoking decades ago.
In the UK a similar campaign ‘Action on Sugar’ has just launched, in the hope of reversing the obesity epidemic by targeting the “huge and unnecessary amounts of sugar that are currently being added to our food and soft drinks”. The campaign’s expert advisors include heavyweights from the scientific and medical community.
Last month leaked draft guidelines from the World Health Organisation – WHO – suggested the organisation is considering halving the recommended daily intake of sugar from ten teaspoons to five. WHO’s “global strategy on diet” also says an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for chronic disease and recommends reducing sugar intake to help prevent conditions like type 2 diabetes and dental problems :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! Government Agency Warns Infants Diagnosed with Parechovirus
About 20 babies have been diagnosed with the gastro and respiratory virus, which usually only causes fever, rash and diarrhoea but in severe cases can develop into hepatitis or encephalitis.
New South Wales Health – NSWH – says all 20 cases of HPeV have so far been in children aged under 16 weeks. Parents and doctors should be on the lookout for symptoms.
HPeV is a ubiquitous virus that is transmitted from person to person via direct and indirect routes. It is the cause of paralytic poliomyelitis, a disease that has been eradicated from most western nations :: Read the full article »»»»