Now, however, scientists are discovering a positive side to sun-worshipping.

The Cambridge research indicates that sunlight may prompt our bodies to switch down the inflammatory response.

Scientists are discovering sunlight may even help us keep slim and healthy, according to studies by the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh that kept mice on high-fat diets while they were exposed to the spectrum of ultraviolet light found in sunshine.

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Emerging research indicates that sunlight may protect us against a wide range of lethal or disabling conditions, such as obesity, heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and multiple sclerosis.

Sunshine has also been shown to boost our libidos and general mood.

The University of Alabama analysis revealed that the more sunshine someone experienced, the lower their risk of stroke.

The study in the journal, Annals of Neurology in 2013, called for further research.

Dr Weller is supported by Martin Feelisch, the professor of experimental medicine at Southampton University who has also been studying sunshine’s role in keeping us healthy — in particular the effect of sunlight-stimulated nitric oxide to protect our cardiovascular systems by lowering blood pressure.

Professor Feelisch warns that avoiding sunlight or using sunblock constantly could be a new risk factor for heart disease — and more people die from heart disease than skin cancer.

Last year, Cambridge University scientists showed that the expression of 28 per cent of our entire genetic make-up varies from season to season.’The Cambridge investigators reported in the journal Nature Communications that in winter we increase the activity of inflammatory immune-system genes — to combat infectious bugs — and in summer we increase the activity of anti-inflammatory genes.