Sun Exposure May Help Prevent Obesity and Diabetes

   |  Updated: October 28, 2014 17:15 IST

Sun Exposure May Help Prevent Obesity and Diabetes
Science has happy news for us all. A new research conducted by the team at the Telethon Kids Institute has found how exposure to sunshine may aid in slowing down the development of obesity and diabetes. "Our findings are important as they suggest that casual skin exposure to sunlight, together with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, may help prevent the development of obesity in children," said Dr Shelley Gorman, Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute.

The team of experts carried out experiments on overfed mice by exposing them to UV light. It was seen that the weight gain process in these mice had slowed down and there were fewer signs associated with diabetes including abnormal glucose levels or insulin resistance.

The study was published in the journal Diabetes and explained how nitric oxide is the key element that plays a vital role in this scientific process. According to the team, when skin is exposed to sunlight, it releases nitric oxide. When topical application of nitric oxide was given to overfed mice, the results were found to be the same as when exposed to UV light.

"These observations further indicate that the amounts of nitric oxide released from the skin may have beneficial effects not only on heart and blood vessels but also on the way our body regulates metabolism," said Dr Martin Feelisch, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Integrative Biology, University of Southampton.

"We know from epidemiology studies that sun-seekers live longer than those who spend their lives in the shade. Studies such as this one are helping us to understand how the sun can be good for us," said Dr Richard Weller, senior lecturer in Dermatology, University of Edinburgh.

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"We need to remember that skin cancer is not the only disease that can kill us and should perhaps balance our advice on sun exposure," said Weller.

Some of the studies in the recent past establish a link between nitric oxide and lower blood pressure - once exposed to UV lamps. Interestingly Vitamin D has practically no role play in this discovery. The researchers explains this study as a door opening to further studies that could de-mystify the role of sun rays' in human health. However, at present, further research is needed to confirm whether the above mentioned experiment on mice will replicate similar results when tested on humans.

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