Exposure to the sun's UV rays lowers blood pressure, and this can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and can even prolong life, say researchers from Edinburgh University.
The benefits of sun exposure far outweigh any risks because heart disease causes 80 times more deaths than skin cancer, they say.
Just an hour's exposure to the sun dramatically reduces blood pressure by releasing nitric oxide, a compound that affects cardiovascular health.
The researchers now want to look at the risks of sunbathing over different periods of time. If they still find that sunbathing has a positive effect on heart health, the current safe sun guidelines will need rewriting, they say.
(Source: International Investigative Dermatology conference, Edinburgh, May 8-11, 2013).