March 26, 2009

Sunshine Cuts Blood Clot Risk

A new study by Swedish researchers finds the risk of blood clots can be lessened with a little help from the sun.

"We found that women who suntan had about 30 percent lower risk of suffering blood clots," Pelle Lindqvist told AFP. Lindqvist is an associate professor at the obstetrics and gynecology department at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.

"There is also a 50-percent higher risk of blood clots in December, January and February in Sweden, when there is the least sun here," he said.

Researchers at Lund University in southern Sweden studied 40,000 Swedish women in 1990 and looked at their sunning habits which included whether they suntanned in the summer, the winter, used a sun bed, or traveled south to catch a few rays.

The researchers then studied the women's medical health records for a dozen years.

They discovered that 312 of the study participants had developed thrombosis, or blood clots.

Researchers adjusted for variables like exercise, smoking, alcohol habits, and weight. Yet, the study found any amount of sun tanning helped lower the risk of blood clots.

The study was published in the March edition of the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

"By sunning, you avoid a shortage of Vitamin D in the winter when people here in Sweden very often suffer a deficiency of that vitamin. It is only during the summer that we really have enough Vitamin D," he said.

Lindqvist said he does not know how Vitamin D prevents blood clots. However, he says more questions raised by the research would be the focus of future studies.

He also noted that people should try to avoid sunburn as they try to balance beneficial sun exposure and skin cancer risks.

"But you should go out a bit every day, and it's not true that it's enough to go out late in the afternoon. You really should go out in the middle of the day, because that is when the production of Vitamin D occurs," he said.


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