London: Researchers have found that active sun exposure habits are linked to decrease in heart disease and noncancer/non-heart disease deaths. The researchers looked into the paradox that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. The study involved 29,518 Swedish women who were followed for 20 years. The study found that longer life expectancy among women with active sun exposure habits was related to a decrease in heart disease and noncancer/non-heart disease deaths, causing the relative contribution of death due to cancer to increase. Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by Vitamin D, another mechanism related to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, or by unmeasured bias could not be determined. Therefore, additional research is warranted, the scientists said. "We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking," said lead author of the study Pelle Lindqvist, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden. The findings were published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. "Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health," Lindqvist said.