Tanning could reduce the risk of dying from Covid-19, global study says
Tanning could reduce the risk of dying from Covid-19.
Experts say UVA rays cause the skin to release a chemical that alleviates symptoms.
A global study found in sunny areas, Covid mortality rates fell.
Dr Richard Weller of the University of Edinburgh, said: “There is still so much we don’t understand about Covid-19. These early results open up sunlight exposure as one way of potentially reducing the risk of death.”
Prof Chris Dibben added: “The relationship between Covid-19 mortality, season and latitude has been quite striking.”
He said the research offered “an alternative explanation” for the sun pattern.
The scientists believe sunlight exposure helped because it can cause the skin to release nitric oxide – which has reduced the virus’ ability to replicate in lab tests.
Now light therapies could be trialled as a future treatment.
Dr Weller co-wrote a paper looking at potential benefits and harms of sun exposure and ultraviolet light on Covid-19.
The review, which was published in December, found getting more sun reduced Covid risks – but warned against over-doing it.
It said: "This effect tailed off as environmental UV light increased, suggesting that there may be an upper limit to the levels of UV light associated with reduced COVID-19 mortality."
The review added having darker skin meant treatments using UV light may not be as effective.
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"The reduced penetration of UV light through more pigmented skin suggests that any UV-mediated reductions in COVID-19 mortality would be less in darker-skinned individuals than their geographically co-located compatriots with paler skin color," it stated.
It also warned that sunlight could make Covid vaccines less effective and mean that people should be jabbed in areas where they haven't caught the sun.
"UV-induced reductions in vaccine efficacy might be possible but that more research is needed to determine the longevity of the effects of UV exposure, and the best skin sites for vaccination," said the review.
It concluded: "It is clear that there is considerable interest in the potential for UV light, and induced mediators such as vitamin D and nitric oxide to modulate the incidence and severity of COVID-19.
"Measuring sun exposure may be important for the development of informed and evidence-based advice, particularly for people at-risk of severe COVID-19 events.
"New trials will likely consider the combined effects of vitamin D supplementation or inhaled nitric oxide with other successful treatments.
"We highlight that UV light, and induced mediators, may exert anti-SARS-CoV-2 effects, with protective effects hypothesized for respiratory and cardiometabolic health during COVID-19; however, more evidence is needed."
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