A facinating Ted Talk on UV and heart attacks

OK, I lost track of who pointed me at this. Finally got time to watch it. It’s worth it.
(If it was you, pipe up for a h/t)

UPDATE 12 Mar 2013

The h/t goes to Jratig back on the Autism and Sulphate thread:


Back To The Original Posting

The “short form” is that UV raises your Vit-D level and that fixes a lot of diseases, but also and distinct from that, UV exposure to the skin changes your NO level and Nitrous Oxide separately lowers your blood pressure and heart attack risk (and may do other good things as well). The skin stores precursors (likely from vegetable foods) but UV cleaves them into NO and that causes measurable changes in circulatory disease.

As we now have vast populations indoors basically during all sun hours, then coating themselves in sunblock and clothes whenever going outdoors, the implication of that is rather large.

We’re talking 30% increase in heart attack risk, or that kind of range, just from south England to north Scotland. (If I’ve remembered the graph presented correctly).

The presenter is a dermatologist. At the end he points out that he spends many hours telling folks they have skin cancer it is caused by the sun etc. etc. BUT that the health risk from heart attack is much much higher, and maybe they need to come up with a better set of recommendations…

The effect is greater in older people. (How much greater is yet To Be Determined). So I’m reminded of all the nursing homes where folks are basically indoors 24 x 7…

So, in addition to the other things we’ve looked at over the years ( Mg levels, sulphate levels, etc.) it looks like your Nitrous levels matter and you need to get out in the sun. So, soak in the mineral baths, have yourself a mud pack, get a glass of wine and go sit in the sun… Golly, that’s something a fella could get to liking ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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21 Responses to A facinating Ted Talk on UV and heart attacks

  1. sabretoothed says:

    So does this mean Fluorescent lights are good for you then :P

    Another interesting thing, is if you keep a snake or a lizard, you need the UV lamp otherwise it will eventually get sick and die. Why my lizards when I was a young child would eventually just die, as my lamp didn’t have UV.

    I think Melanoma is over stated with UV. Maybe Melanoma is more likely because of low UV rather then high? As Vit D is very anti cancer. If Melanoma is UV, why do they also happen on the sole of your feet, or in your intestine or your brain?

    Be interesting the wavelengths of CFL compared to LED. How does looking at a computer screen affect your Vit D and also your Pineal gland activation?

  2. philjourdan says:

    NOT ME – but I agree with the premise. We are creatures of the sun. My wife avoids it like the plague (even going so far as to put dark film on the car windows. As I do have a day job that is away from the sun, I enjoy working outside on the weekends. And when I get into the car for the commute, I roll down the window and let the sun shine in!

  3. Bloke down the pub says:

    I’ve never needed much of an excuse to get my kit off and laze about in the sun.

  4. tckev says:

    I wish I could stay out in the sun more but I’m one of those people who fry quickly and have never had a good tan. More than 20-30 minutes or so in the sun and I’m done. Must be the Celtic genes, none of the family tans well. My blond sisters all use bottle tanning in the summer. I was the one in the family that had dark aurbon hair – mostly gone now, and what’s left is gray. I have plenty of freckles though, if only they would all join up then it would look like a tan. :-)

  5. jradig says:

    From your Feb 20 post – Autism, Sulphate, Sunshine, and Nutrition:

    @Jradig: Nitric Oxide too, eh? So that’s three compounds from sun on skin… ( Vit-D, Cholesterol Sulphate, Nitric Oxide). One wonders how many more are made, and not noticed… None of those account for the S.A.D. issue either. Looks like sunlight in general, and “Enough UV” in particular, are very important…

  6. adolfogiurfa says:

    “Let the Sunshine In!”….Those creatures of the dark, those flesh eaters anaerobic microbes, those “Monsters of Cthulhu”, described by H.P.Lovecraft, are becoming visible in these “interesting times” we are living in…

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks! h/t installed to posting ;-)


    I’m good for about 20 minutes at high noon, then I’m “bright red with manilla spots” ;-)

    OTOH, I think “folks like us” can likely get what we need from far less UV exposure. So take Vit-D, “we” don’t get rickets nearly as easily as darker folks since we can make a load of Vit-D from not much more than our pale faces sticking out of those large overcoats… I’d expect the same to hold for other skin / solar chemicals.

    @Philjourdan & Bloke Down The Pub:

    Well, at least now you have a ‘snappy comeback’ at anyone accusing you of goofing off ;-)

  8. Petrossa says:

    seems rather blindingly obvious to me that natural environmental factors are essential for the proper functioning of the body after millions of years of evolution in that environment. Air composition, sun and other factors are stable(ish) now for at least that amount of time.

  9. DocMartyn says:

    NO is one of the cutest signalling molecules. NO is a second messenger and its message is ‘increase blood flow’. So what happens when NO is released and increases blood flow, the increase in blood flow/blood volume moves the NO from where it was generated, lowing signal, and NO reacts with oxy-hemoglobin and is converted to nitrite.
    The half-life of NO is variable, depending on blood flow, but its half-life is such that it will not get from skin to anywhere else except another bit of dermis.
    You can go to the supermarket and buy Arginine, eating that will raise you arginine levels and increase your steady state levels of NO. Some men (and a few women) swear by its effect on target organs, with respect to blood flow.

    The role of NO as an antioxidant was covered by someone I know well. He was told that there was no way that nM NO could stop pM hydroxyl damage, based on maths. So he did the experiments.


    Nitric oxide and Fenton/Haber–Weiss chemistry: nitric oxide is a potent antioxidant at physiological concentrations

    If ever you want to know what happens when you sell your soul to the Devil, just read the life story of Haber, from WWI to just before WWII.
    That’s what we should teach our undergraduates.

  10. PhilJourdan says:

    @E.M. – This topic reminds me of the Lost in Space episode where Dr. Smith was turned into a Carrot. ;-)

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    Please! Don’t talk to me of “Lost In Space Dr. Smith”!

    He is likely the reason I don’t have a PhD or MD. Just could not stand the idea of being called “Doctor Smith”….

    I’ve still had to cope with that. I’m pondering an online ‘doctorate’ program and have to cope with the emotional baggage. (Kids in my high school taunted me with “Dr. Smith”… as I basically knew everything they did plus a whole lot more plus more than that… it left an emotional scar…)

    I’m almost over it…

    (Maybe I ought to change my name to Jones… ;-0

  12. J Martin says:

    Interesting. For quite a few years now I have been abandoning not so sunny England for a 2 week summer holiday, often in France. All too often either staying out of the sun or and getting slightly burnt. But last summer I went for three weeks and this time determined to take more care and used more sun screen and avoided peak hours, but unlike previous holidays I did sunbathe every day, at first for just half an hour at about 4pm and then built up to longer periods, though always avoiding the 11am to 3pm period.

    The net result is that I acquired a light but reasonable sun tan which did not peel and took a long time to fade, unlike previous years. But my biggest surprise was a noticeable improvement in a sense of well being which lasted for several months after my return. At the time I put it down to having had a 3 week break, but now I wonder if NO and vitamin D played a significant part in the effect.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @J. Martin:


    Both the spouse and I are “Anglo Saxon Celts” with pale white skin and red head ancestry. (Her Mother and my Dad plus my Mum was about 1/2 red).

    The spouse has S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    Of Interest:

    I got a “Lizard Lamp” for the spouse. It does a lot of UVb and not so much UVa. About 20 minutes a day at about 2 feet seems to ‘fix things’ for her.

    I tend to be “in the yard” and often ‘minimally clothed’ whenever possible. This specifically excludes summer between 10 am and 2 pm as I burn to a crisp then… i.e. red welty sunburn.

    When in Florida and getting much more sun (though some of it ‘under cloud’) I was much better in several ways (though that takes a posting of its own to sort..)

    It would seem that even Celts with the Red Head Gene are benefited by sun. Just not between 10 am and 2 pm in the tropics…

    FWIW, I strongly recommend the Lizard Lamp in winter for folks out of the Tropics…

  14. sabretoothed says:

    So how long do you think you would need to use the “Lizard lamp” and what wattage? Would you wear shorts and tee shirt and have it in the distance.

    So UVB makes Vit D, is UVA the one that causes skin cancer ?

    I think another big problem is people wearing sun glasses too. As getting light into the eyes is important too, eg for the Pineal gland and UV as well.

  15. PhilJourdan says:

    @E.M. – Sorry, when I penned the comment, I was not thinking of you as Dr. Smith! I can see where that would be painful! And Funny!

    So is that character the reason you are the antithesis of that character? The last thing (based upon your blog alone) anyone can call you is lazy!

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    I can’t tell someone else what to do, I can only state what we did. We got a lamp at the pet store. I think it was a 20 ish Watt one. I set it up in an aluminum reflector fixture (Al reflects UV) and took my shirt off. Sitting about 2 feet from it, shining on my back, I got a slight “sunburn” after about 40 minutes of exposure. (All this from memory, so you need to do your own experiments…)

    I then used that data point to set guidelines for the spouse. More than 2 feet away and less than 20 minutes. Oh, and do NOT look at the bulb. Not only does it specifically say not to look at it, but UV is not kind to eyes.

    This effectively cures her Seasonal Affective Disorder AND gets her Vit-D levels up to normal ranges. (She did not respond to supplements. I’m not sure why. We had the M.D. doing blood tests and the “right kind” of Vit-D was not at the right levels. UV “fixed it”. Yes, we were working with an M.D. on all this. While I like “playing with my metabolism” I also recognize that a trained expert in the subject knows a whole lot more than I do, especially about what can go wrong…)

    FWIW, my “test series” with the lamp started at 4 feet for 5 minutes. I proceeded by 25% changes in distance (i.e. one foot changes) and doubling of times until I found that point where I got “just a little too much” on the back. I would not recommend that process for anyone young. I’ve already had a few dozens of “blistering red sunburns” on that particular patch of skin, so a ‘bit of pink’ doesn’t significantly change my skin cancer risk (especially given my age). But for anyone young and not already “at risk”, it’s not a good idea to be getting mild sunburns as a way to measure a light bulb…

    This is a smaller lower wattage version of what we got


    It specifically says not for people on the package. It is for lizards only. Anyone choosing to use it for people are making their own choice to go “off label” and against recommendations. I looked up the UV spectrum and all prior to using ours. As phosphors chosen by the manufacturer can change over time (folks change lamps and processing methods) any new use and new bulb would need a repeat of the “investigate the spectrum” process. (That is: I have no idea if the present bulbs put out more, or less of UVA UVB UVC… compared to what we have now, so you need to do your own investigate and measure on each new bulb).

    It would be best to have a UV bulb designed for people (our UV needs are different from those of Lizards – they die without it and can take “high noon in the desert”. I don’t die and can’t take high noon in the desert for more than 20 minutes – and even then I’m in distress…) but I’ve not found one.


    I try to keep the character purged from my memory and have as near to zero impact from it on my life as possible. (Much easier post ’80s or so when it basically faded from the culture).

    I am who I am, nobody else, and I’m driven by my own character, not some other.

    In short: That was then, this is now.

  17. DirkH says:

    As for UV emitted by CFL’s: Not good at all. Mercury has a nasty spectral line in the UVC range; for Vitamin D production you want UVB. Coating is supposed to suppress the UVC spectral line, but usually has cracks. Try to have another glass pane between the CFL and you.

    CFL’s and fluorescent lights also do not have continuous spectra, they are shitty sources of UVB for all I know.

    For residents of the glorious EU: Do not hope that you can get Vitamin D on a sunbench. All sunbench lamps sold in the EU must have UVB filters installed. Because of skin cancer risk, and because the public is too stupid to make its own decisions.

    Often all these shenanigans by the EU Kommissars have convinced me that they want to actively destroy Europe and kill its population after having robbed them blind.

  18. DirkH says:

    sabretoothed says:
    13 March 2013 at 3:02 am
    “So UVB makes Vit D, is UVA the one that causes skin cancer ?”

    UVB causes skin cancer in melanin-deficient people, and UVC even more so (more energy rich).

  19. Pingback: Sunlight and Cardiovascular Relationships | The GOLDEN RULE

  20. sabretoothed says:


    Yeah interesting. I was just interested to know how long would actually burn a person. I know I know its experimental only ;) Might give it a go for short periods maybe 10min or so in winter.

    Interesting that glass stops UVB. So people are Vit D deficient because of the glass as well.

    This looks better then the Vit D tablets, as since its a fat soluble vitamin, it can actually accumulate too much with the tablet. As if if you have a blood test, you are only measuring the blood level, not the load level inside your fat reserves, which could be too high if you take supplements for too long and get Vit D toxicity. This is not possible when you get it from light.

    So the tanning salons (from article above) are UVA.

    Maybe wear sunglasses for the eyes? http://www.who.int/uv/faq/uvhealtfac/en/index.html

    An another interesting thing I think I remember, is that on the skin when UV hits it I think the Vitamin D goes to the surface in the oils of the skin or something, then gets absorbed. So if you wash too much, your washing your Vit D away.

    But Melanoma maybe is UVB initiated? But I guess if you don’t get UVB you will die from lack of Vit D ;)

    Click to access 6372.full.pdf


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