I’m not exactly what a sun lover says, but after being raised in a dreary northern island sad, I enjoy the blue sky and golden rays. Unfortunately, we are constantly being warned of the health risks of being in the sun and its devastating effects on our skin. But what if the sun were to play a key role in biological processes in our bodies that positively impacted our welfare and even aging. Scientists are casting a shadow over the old thinking and expose new truths about the UV light. Keep shining!
There are three types of UV (ultraviolet) light. UVB and UVC is blocked mostly by the ozone layer of the earth, while almost all the UVA light reaching the surface of the Earth.
Unlike visible light, UV radiation energy can be absorbed by the molecules of our body, causing chemical reactions. When absorbed by DNA, which can lead to the development of skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the US ..
The other result is unwanted photo-aging, UVB rays only reach to the skin surface and cause freckles and dark spots. While UVA rays are deeper and can activate a protein, which in turn activates metalloproteinases (MMPs) and, in particular, MMP-1, which degrades collagen. Therefore, bad reputation of the sun.
Now, what about those benefits that scientists are beginning to focus on? Some chemical reactions caused by UV light are known to have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. Immune cells that live on the skin may stop working, migrate out of the skin or undergo cell death after exposure to UV radiation. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, UV light can be used to effectively treat inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema ( origin ). And inflammation, of course, is linked to aging. So some exposure to sunlight we can keep looking a little younger.
The relationship between sunlight and the ability of our body to manufacture vitamin D is now well known. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining bone density. According to Dr. Dennis Gross, one of the few dermatologists to tune in investigating vitamin D, which also helps minimize acne, increase elasticity, stimulates collagen production, improved brightness and reducing the appearance of lines and of dark spots.
Vitamin D has been associated with improved cancer outcomes. But, and this in where it gets really interesting, data to support this remains unconvincing. So, I mean that trials of supplementation of vitamin D have failed to prevent cancer. So the researchers think the benefit is actually UV.
Now the next part is where I have a strong personal interest. My husband was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Fortunately is asymptomatic and to keep it that way we have high intake of vitamin D. With multiple sclerosis, immune cells attack the insulation around nerve cells in the brain, ultimately leading to nerve damage. While lack of vitamin D is one of the main assumptions of how MS develops, there seems to be a new research shows that lack of sun exposure (independent of vitamin D thing) may increase the risk factor nerve damage ( source ). I wonder if our health insurance will be extended to a second home in California.
And there are more reasons to love the sun. Apparently, it has a positive impact on reducing blood pressure. UV light also induces the body synthesize other molecules, such as opioids like. A high tan! California is looking more attractive every minute.
None of this means abandoning the sunscreen though. Sunburn is a bad thing. So keep applying sunscreen, but do not avoid the sun.
Special thanks to Conversation for an article that got me started research for this post.