Sunscreen found to protect vascular health

The new study suggests sunscreens can protect blood vessel function from harmful UV radiation

A new study has found sunscreen could protect the skin’s blood vessel function from harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

UVR is known to reduce nitric oxide-associated dilation of skin blood vessels (vasodilation) by reducing the amount of nitric oxide available in the skin, which is essential for blood vessel health.

Nitric oxide works to relax the inner muscles of the blood vessels, causing them to widen and increase circulation.

Meanwhile, vasodilation of the skin’s blood vessels plays an important role in regulating body temperature and responding to heart stress.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University studied the effect of UVR exposure with sunscreen or sweat against nitric oxide’s ability to promote vasodilation of skin blood vessels.

Scientists carried out the experiment on young adults with light-to-medium skin tone, using one arm as a control while the other was exposed to the equivalent UVR of one hour in the sun.

The UVR site was found to have less nitric oxide-associated vasodilation than the control arm; while the sunscreen and sweat-treated sites did not show a reduction in nitric oxide-associated vasodilation.

The research team wrote: “The presence of sunscreen or sweat on skin may play a protective role against this effect.”

Tony Wolf, first author of the study added: “For those who spend a lot of time working, exercising or participating in other various activities outdoors, using sunscreen may protect not only against skin cancer, but also against reductions in skin vascular function.”

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