Today’s Solutions: October 28, 2021

It is well known that high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are more prevalent in colder climates, and that heart attacks and strokes are both more common and more severe in the winter months. Now, researchers have provided evidence of a reason why, by directly linking exposure to sunshine to the health of our blood vessels.

 A molecule called nitric oxide (NO) is critical to regulating how the walls of blood vessels expand and contract—which determines our blood pressure—and is also found at high levels in skin cells. Investigators at the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton in the UK found that by shining ultraviolet light (which mimics the effects of sunlight) on the skin of volunteers, they could lower their blood pressure and increase the level of NO in the blood. Interestingly, dietary intervention to increase NO levels had no such effect.

The NO had to be released from skin cells, where it is stored, to impact the blood pressure. Shining a light with the ultraviolet rays blocked also had no effect, indicating that sunlight, not just electric light, was critical. Thirty percent of deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease, and the researchers believe that the current public health recommendations to avoid sunlight should be reconsidered. According to lead author Martin Feelisch, “Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

(Source: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2014; doi: 10.1038/jd.2014.27)

Photo: Flickr/ Archbob

Need more optimistic health tips? Get them here, for free.

Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Austria’s Klimaticket lets you to travel anywhere in the country for just €3 ...

Fifteen years after it was first proposed, Austria has finally officially introduced its Klimaticket, or ‘climate ticket,’ an annual ticket with unlimited access to all public transportation for the price of just or €3 ($3.50) ... Read More

Best bites and beverages to boost your bladder health

Here at The Optimist Daily, we talk a lot about what we should eat to support gut health and heart health, but that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention to what works best for our ... Read More

Unusual fruit byproduct makes tilapia fish healthier and stronger

Tilapia is a popular fish around the world, and now, researchers from Russia's RUDN University have discovered a way to make the fish more resilient─using a feed ingredient that would otherwise end up in landfills. ... Read More

Air 4 All hopes to make dignified air travel accessible for everyone

While many of us are craving new surroundings and landscapes, most would probably like to skip over the part where we are confined to the cramped space of an airline seat for hours and hours. ... Read More

This science-backed playlist is full of songs that will give you chills

We all have those special songs we go back to every now and then if we want to get a good dosage of “chills”—that powerful emotional response reflected by a pleasurable sensation of tingles, and ... Read More

AMC Theaters to offer open captioning showtimes at 100 US locations

Movie theater company AMC has announced plans to make their showings more inclusive with the addition of open captioning during select showings at over 100 US locations. "By adding open captions to the variety of ... Read More