Karl J. Neeser

, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Title : Sunlight Exposure Lowers Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, and Improves Insulin Sensitivity


Today, as the evidence grows, the good news is that regular sun exposure having so many health benefits, many experts and dermatologists are rethinking their staunch sun-avoidance advice. Moderate sun exposure without sunscreen or other protection is important and the beneficial effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure should not be ignored in developing new sun safety guidelines. The strong cardio-metabolic protective effect, in particular for hypercholesterolemia, hypertension or diabetes, is a prime example, and cannot be ignored nowadays.

Latitude of the countries as well as attitudes and behavior toward sunlight exposure are the major determinants of vitamin D status in a population where sunshine is abundant. Countries near to the equator receive more sunlight all year round compared with those far from the equator. However, sun-seeking behavior is frequently uncommon in these populations because the climate is often too hot and/or people are afraid of skin cancer.

In South-East Asia the sun can be directly overhead and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) producing vitamin D may be able to protect from many chronic diseases. Health benefits of sun exposure in population of Southeast Asia, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer mortality, and non-pandemic influenzas incidence, were reported as those observed in population in other parts of the world. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is more common in Southeast Asia than is appreciated, affecting all age groups. This widespread vitamin D deficiency problem is an urgent health issue that needs to be remedied as people in South-East Asia could avoid diabetes in most cases as they benefit from sufficient sunshine all year round to guarantee sufficient vitamin D serum levels.