ED and sunlight, by Marc Sorenson, EdD
ED (erectile dysfunction) is an embarrassment and frustration for many men.
This disease leads to failure in the bedroom for both man and wife. What you may not know is that ED is also a major predictor of heart and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Moreover, although some experts consider it a psychological (and therefore neurological) origin, it is not psychological. Erection is a mostly a vascular event and ED is, largely, an artery-blocking vascular disease similar to heart disease. Nevertheless, it also is associated with higher risk of other maladies such as respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and inflammatory disorders. ED is no laughing matter, and recent research has demonstrated that the condition predicts a profoundly increased risk not only of CVD, but also death in general: A 12-year study showed that men with ED had a 70% increase in all-cause death, compared to men without the condition.
What is the underlying cause of ED?
I believe that (as with other degenerative diseases) junk food consumption plugs arteries and wreaks havoc on all body systems. At our former health resort, men sometimes reported that after using good nutrition and obtaining sun exposure, their ED problems disappeared. Based on the science and observation, it is my opinion that ED originates with poor nutrition. Yet, sun exposure can offer a partial solution for the condition. While sunlight is important, it is an adjunct, not a cure for ED. Only a healthful diet, combined with sunlight, can reverse and heal the disease. So let us delve into the helpful effects the sun brings—effects provided by nitric oxide stimulation to the arteries.
The anatomy of ED.
The vascular part of the ED problem is due to two cylindrical arteries (chambers) called the corpus cavernosa. When anything occludes these chambers, they allow minuscule blood flow into the penis, thus making erection impossible. Nitric Oxide (NO), a product of sun exposure, upon stimulation by the nervous system, causes vasodilation in the cavernosa, allowing them to receive blood. As stated in the online journal, Concepts in Biochemistry, “Achievement of a penile erection in males is largely an application of basic principles of hydraulics. Stimulation of the nerves innervating the penis causes the dilation of the deep arteries supplying blood. A large amount of blood enters the penis and engorges the cavernosa sinuses. This engorgement acts to compress the veins draining blood from the penis. The increased inflow and decreased outflow of blood causes an erection. Cessation of impulses to the penis acts to abolish the erection.”
So, where does sunlight enter in?
An early study assessed the effect of ultraviolet light (sun) exposure on cavernosal strips, obtained from men during surgery. The strips showed relaxation in response to sunlight, and relaxation increased with the duration of exposure. We expect that sunbathing, which would profoundly increase NO in the circulation, would also allow erection. The same nitric-oxide mechanism that lowers blood pressure would seem to be a good method to treat ED. Another indication that sun exposure can play an important role in treating ED, is the fact most men with ED have low 25(OH)D levels. But we already know that low 25(OH)D levels are a surrogate measurements for low sun exposure. Therefore a large part of the problem may be may be a lack of NO production!
Many products purportedly cure and alleviate ED. If most men would eat decently and obtain regular, non-burning sun exposure, they and their wives would be much happier and satisfied.
Recently, I posted that sunlight exposure, coupled with blueberry consumption, may be a better option than Viagra in terms of overcoming erectile dysfunction (ED) but never mentioned that there might be a further association with Viagra and melanoma. Research now indicates a surprising newcomer to the melanoma equation: the use of sildenafil (Viagra) increases the invasiveness of melanoma cells, which may raise the risk of the disease. In a study that was begun in 2000 and reported in 2014, it was found that recent use of Viagra was associated with an 84% increased risk of melanoma and that ever use of the drug was associated with a 92% risk. And among those who had no major chronic diseases at baseline, the risk was 124% higher for those who recently used the drug and 177% higher among those who had ever used the drug.
Noxious chemicals have many side effects, but who would have guessed that an ED drug would increase the risk of melanoma? Remember also that we have presented information showing that melanoma is not caused by regular sunlight exposure, and that sunlight is in fact protective against that disease. Sunlight, therefore, is a better choice for the prevention of both melanoma and ED.
 Li WQ, Qureshi AA, Robinson K, Han J. Sildenafil use and increased risk of incident melanoma in US men: a prospective cohort study. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Jun;174(6):964-70C
Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute
The Daily Mail, from the UK, recently posted an article regarding sunlight and fertility that should catch some interest.
Infertility is a problem that causes some couples to seek help from in vitro fertilization (IVF). New research shows that sunlight exposure for a month prior to the procedure increase the odds of success by 35%. Dr. Frank Vandekerckhove, who reported the research, looked at the IVF results of about 6,000 women and compared the dates of their treatment with weather conditions. The more sunshine, the greater likelihood of becoming pregnant. Dr. Vandekerckhove said that sunshine a month before conception probably helped a woman’s eggs to mature. He also mentioned that there is no reason to think that a burst of sunshine won’t also help women trying to get pregnant naturally.
There is nothing really new about the effects of sunlight on fertility, and this work by Vandekerckhove is not the first to establish the link of sunlight to IVF. Much has also been studied regarding natural, non- laboratory fertility. Low vitamin D, which is primarily a result of low sunlight exposure, is closely related to the ability to conceive in both women and men. Couples spend thousands of dollars on fertility clinics and IVF when perhaps all they need is some time in the sun.
In an article posted on Emax health, entitled Sex in the Sun May Increase Your Fertility it is pointed out that approximately 15% of couples who want to conceive are plagued by problems of fertility. Drs. Elisabeth Lerchbaum and Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, in 2012, conducted a review of articles on vitamin D and fertility and came to these conclusions: “VDR knockout mice [mice whose vitamin D doesn’t work due to inability to link to receptors at the cellular level] have significant gonadal insufficiency, decreased sperm count and motility, and histological abnormalities of testis, ovary and uterus.” They also point out that vitamin D is involved in female reproduction—including IVF outcome, so it is a bit surprising that the article in the Daily Mail gave the impression that the research by Vandekerckhove was a totally new concept.
The review also stated that in men, higher vitamin D levels are positively associated with semen quality and androgen (male hormone) status, and that vitamin D treatment might increase testosterone levels.
One thing that is missing in these excellent studies is any discussion of the production of nitric oxide (NO) by sunlight exposure. NO is a potent vasodilator that is essential for proper erection in men, meaning it relaxes the blood vessels, allowing the blood to pass more easily through the vessels. Without it erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs. Viagra, Cialis and other such ED drugs work through a Nitric Oxide pathway and act by keeping NO in circulation for a longer period. But they don’t work in about one-third of the cases, and the effect diminishes over time, not to mention the side effects such as headaches, body aches and pains, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, vision changes, flushing, congestion and runny nose. Since sunlight exposure increases NO, it is probably a better choice. For those who wish to produce a pregnancy, ED could be a devastating problem, and sunlight may be the answer.
Sunlight exposure has so many positive properties that we may never know them all. Use non-burning sunlight safely. Here’s to a successful pregnancy and a sunny family life!
Vandekerckhove, F. Presentation at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual conference in Lisbon, Portugal, from June 14 to 17.
 Lerchbaum E1, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Vitamin D and fertility: a systematic review. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012 May;166(5):765-7.
 Burnett AL. The role of nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction: implications for medical therapy. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2006 Dec;8(12 Suppl 4):53-62.