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Sun Dangers

Sunburn dangers

What are Sun Dangers?  You may know about sun dangers if your friends and family know who it is without even looking up.  They sense my presence. They know with their noses.

 You have your own scent that people instantly recognize: SPF 70 sunblock!

Every day, the middle of February or the hottest day in August.   You should be applying a generous amount of sunblock.   Covering your face, neck, ears, arms and other exposed parts of your body to keep your skin safe.

If your friends call you fanatical, just respond calmly.  No, you are not fanatical, just prepared.  In this part of Central Texas, we should always prepare.

Those of you with freckles and very light skin and eyes find that skin protection is a must. You have no option but to shield yourself from the sun.

In fact, it is an absolute necessity for darker-skinned people as well, to use caution before going out into the sun.

From skin cancer to cataracts to wrinkles.  The health problems caused by the sun are threats to people of all skin color.  It is important for everybody to take the sun seriously, especially now with spring finally here.

As the warmer months come you will normally spend more time outside.  More skin will be exposed to the sun and for longer periods.  It may not be sweltering hot right now. (in fact, it is very cool and breezy as I write this!) the UV radiation is intensifying as we get nearer to summer.  Sun Blocking Habits 

Risks

The risks of you getting sunburn and skin damage are increasing.

As I am highlighting skin problems from too much sun, hopefully, you are aware of the need to prepare.  When it comes to our skin you want to have healthy, youthful, and cancer free skin well into old age.  Sun dangers are what we all must protect ourselves from.

Why The Sun So Harmful

We can answer in two words: Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation.

This type of energy is so harmful to your health that the World Health Organization declared it a carcinogen, especially for the skin.  

Wave Length Radiation

Depending on the wavelength of the UV radiation released, it can be classified as UVA, UVB, or UVC radiation.

UVA radiation:   The A  stands for ageing, has wavelengths between 320 and 400 nm.   They can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. It is responsible for ageing, skin cancer, and wrinkles.

The ozone layer barely absorbs any of it.  So UVA radiation accounts for 95% of the UV radiation that hits the Earth.

UVB radiation: The B stands for burning .  Has wavelengths between 320 and 290 nm and is mostly trapped by the ozone layer.

It makes up the remaining 5% of the UV radiation that hits the Earth. UVB radiation is responsible for the production of vitamin D in our bodies. Overexposure to this radiation causes damage to the skin, mostly the top layer.

This affects you by resulting in skin cancer, sunburns, and even cataracts. Due to ozone layer depletion, more UVB rays are reaching the Earth.

These increases  correlate with an increase in skin cancer.

The UVC radiation, which has the shortest wavelengths between 290 and 100 nm.  Shorter wave length makes the highest energy. The most harmful to you of the three radiations. Luckily this radiation is blocked almost completely by the ozone layer.

Intensity

Throughout the year, and even during the day, the strength of UV radiation changes due to many factors.  In the spring and summer, the tilt of the Earth’s axis positions more toward the sun.

This makes for a more direct path for the sun’s UV radiation through the atmosphere. Allowing the rays to be very strong when it hits the Earth.

For places near the equator with very low latitudes, the sun is mostly always directly overhead.    This makes a shorter path for the UV radiation to travel and increasing its intensity.

The amount of UV radiation also varies depending on the time of day it is. While the sun is high in the sky between 10 AM and 4 PM, the distance the UV radiation has to travel to reach the Earth is the shortest for the day.

This result is that the UV radiation is the strongest. In fact, almost 1/3 of the UV radiation that hits the Earth in a day occurs during these hours.

Additionally, UV radiation is more intense as altitude increases, as cloud cover decreases, and as the ozone layer depletes.  Why?  Because are fewer barriers that can block the dangerous rays. 

Shadow Rule

Want to know how to estimate how much damage is occurring?  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one way to estimate just how strong the UV radiation is, look at your shadow.

According to this Shadow Rule, if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun is high in the sky.   The intensity of the UV radiation is strong. However, if your shadow is taller than you are, the sun is not very high up.  The UV radiation that is reaching you is not at its strongest level.

There is a more accurate way of determining the intensity of UV radiation than staring at your shadow.

Enter the UV Index. This index is a scale that ranges from zero (low UV radiation strength) to eleven and over (very high strength). Information for this will encourage you to take precautions for your skin before going out into the sun.

Have you ever gotten a UV alert on your phone or seen an alert on the morning news?

This kind of alert is based on the UV levels.   It is issued when the UV Index reading in your area is a six and above or is exceedingly high for your region at that time of year.

If you are fortunate enough to receive these alerts, please heed them.   UV alerts help you know when to limit playtime outside to less than twenty minutes. With UV radiation is that intense, people are more likely to burn quicker and get skin damage.

Click here to find out your current location’s UV level. 

Sunburn The Result Of Sun Dangers?

Blisters on the verge of popping to itching, peeling skin, the consequences of sunburns can leave us in pain for days.

Formally known as erythema, sunburn is the body’s response to UV radiation exposure. When UVB radiation reaches the skin, the cells of the skin die.   Parts of their non-coding micro-RNA become damaged and break.

The body’s neighboring cells detect this RNA damage and set off a series of reactions to inflame the skin around the dead cells. This inflammation, is whatwe call sunburn.  This is how the skin to heals.   Your body will kick off the dead cells and cells.   Some cells may become different because their RNA was changed by being burned in the sun.

These mutations are the basis of cancer formation. The removal of dead and possibly cancerous cells is what causes our skin to peel.  Your body is riding itself of dead cells.  

Sunburns may just seem like an uncomfortable, short-term effect of overexposure to the sun.   Actually, there are many long-term implications for your health.

Just one severe sunburn in childhood, or five sunburns throughout a person life, doubles a person’s risk of developing skin cancer. Specifically, melanoma, later in your life.

Therefore, it is critical to shield your children from the sun from birth.  Teaching them to continue protecting themselves from the sun as they grow and mature.   Time pull out that SPF 50!

Don’t Be Fooled

Fun Fact: Do not be fooled by cloudy days and think that it is okay to leave the house without any sun protection for your skin. Even on days of light cloud cover, 80% of UVB rays can still reach the Earth’s surface,  

You can still get sunburn and skin damage.  Sun damage can happen.

What About Tanning

In spite of the pain caused by sunburn, which also includes the increased risk of skin cancer what do you do?  Are you one of the any people refuse to part from their Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil?

So what exactly causes this tan that everybody seems to yearn for?

It all starts with the pituitary gland,  releasing melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) in response to UV radiation exposure.

MSH triggers special cells called melanocytes to produce more melanin. This is your skin’s pigment that absorbs UV radiation and hence protects the skin. So by stimulating the production of more melanin and darkening the skin, the body is able to create a shield.

This shield will protect the skin the next time it is exposed to high amounts of UV radiation.

However, some lighter-skinned individuals are not as receptive to MSH, because they do not have high levels of melanin.

Therefore, it is hard for them to tan.   Those with low levels of melanin have less protection against the sun’s UV radiation.  If this is you, you are more prone to getting sunburn and developing skin problems like skin cancer.

So, are tanning beds a safer alternative to the natural sun?

Absolutely Not!

Tanning beds have been categorized as “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency on Cancer.

Just like the sun’s UV radiation was named a carcinogen by the US Medical Association.  Tanning beds were also declared a danger to your skin.

Tanning beds can lead to the same problems caused by the sun because they emit UVA and UVB radiation. If you start using tanning beds before the age of 35 are you are 75% more likely to get melanoma.  Now will you allow your daughter to go for a tanning session?

Another study found that women who go to tanning salons more than once a month are 55% more likely to develop melanoma.

Most people have realized that tanning beds are cancer producing factories and discontinued the tanning practice.  Where are you with this decision?

Your Skin Cancer And Sun Dangers

With over one million diagnoses each year, skin cancer has become the most common cancer in the United States.

The three most diagnosed forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.  

BCC and SCC, called non-melanomas, account for over 3.5 million skin cancer diagnoses each year. Luckily, these two types of cancer seldom metastasize, and treatment for them has increased over the years.

Melanoma, on the other hand, is a much more dangerous type of skin cancer, resulting in thousands of deaths caused by skin cancer each year.

Melanoma begins when melanocytes undergo uncontrolled cell division and form a tumour. In contrast to BCC and SCC, which usually form in an area of the body that had experienced prolonged sun exposure.

Melanoma can result from just one really bad sunburn exposure.

(This isn’t new information- check back above.)  Additionally, melanoma is different from BCC and SCC. It is known to metastasize and spread throughout your body.  This makes for an increasing severity and harmful effects from that cancer.

So How Does Ultraviolet Radiation Cause Skin Cancer?

UV radiation has very high energy.  Exposure to this radiation causes damage to your cells’ chromosomes and mutations in your DNA.

One common mutation is the damage at a point in the chromosome that codes for a specific tumor suppressor gene.  The sun can damage the very gene that suppresses tumor growth in your body.

Such tumor suppressor genes are important in regulating the cell cycle.  When a gene, like TP53, loses its function, it can result in the cell’s uncontrolled cell division.

The Loss Of Tumor Suppressor Gene

As the cell and its progeny cells, which also contain the mutation, continue to divide uncontrollably, a mass of cells, or a tumour, can form.  Please remember we are talking about what can happen in your body with one sunburn.  Yes, in your body!

Another common mutation in DNA caused by exposure to UV radiation is the translocation of chromosomes.   The alteration of nucleotide base pairs may occur in the promoter or the coding section of a gene.

These mutations can cause a normal proto-oncogene to become an overactive oncogene.

Sun Dangers can cause Gene Mutation

The result is an uncontrolled and rapid division of the cell.

It is important to note that one mutation is rarely the cause of cancer development. Cancers usually form due to an accumulation of gene mutations.   This is known as the multistep progression of cancer.

The mutations mentioned above are just some of the changes UV radiation can have on your cells’ DNA.  As you can see, even slight mutations can alter the functioning of a cell and have massive impacts.

Due to such mutations in DNA, ultraviolet radiation from the sun accounts for 86% of all melanoma cases and 90% of SCC and BCC cases. 

I find it extremely frightening that these cases can be prevented if people stay out of the sun or use sun protection.

Statistics show that we, as a society, need to increase awareness that the sun really is a carcinogen and is dangerous for your health.

Of course, other risk factors must be taken into account when analyzing patients diagnosed with skin cancer.   Factors like your family history, the fairness of your skin. 

Then we must consider as well medical treatments such as organ transplants, and exposure to chemicals. 

It is clear that the rate of skin cancer can decrease if you become more aware of the dangers of the sun.   Start taking the proper precautions before going outside.

Protect Your Eyes From Sun Dangers

Not only is your skin exposure to UV light harmful for your skin, but it is also very dangerous for your eyes.   Especially dangerous for people with lighter colored eyes.

Just like skin, the eyes can get burned by short-term exposure to UVB radiation.

In what is known as photokeratitis, the cornea becomes burned and inflamed. And in photo conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva (inner surface of the eyelids) is burned.

Luckily, “sunburn of the eyes” does not seem to have any detrimental long-term effects on eye health. However, this is not to say that UV radiation does not have long-term effects on the eyes.

Eyes exposed to UV radiation over a period of time are more prone to cataracts.   Damage to the retina, and macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness also occur with sun exposure.

Additionally, long-term exposure to UV radiation is even linked to melanoma of the eye.

Wrinkles

Discussing cancer and eye problems caused by exposure to the sun may cause some to ignore the wrinkles!  It may seem silly to talk about the consequences of sun-induced ageing.  Wrinkles seem so unimportant when comparing to cancer.

It is very important to understand the full spectrum of effects that the sun can have on your health and your bodies.

The same culprit can cause you skin cancer and your eye problems. 

 Awareness is how I can help.   Help you be aware of how dangerous the sun is.   Add to the skin and eye issues from early ageing.  The cause for this early ageing?

UV Radiation

When exposed to UV radiation, the collagen and elastin fibers in your faces break down.   This reduces the flexibility of your skin.

As the flexibility of our skin decreases, your facial skin starts to sag because it can no longer “snap back” when pulled or stretched.

Of course, cancer is my number one concern when it comes to the health effects of the sun.  I know that wrinkles are a natural sign of ageing.   They are a sign of a long life, full of wonderful experiences and memories. 

Why should you prematurely loosen the connective tissues of your face? Let’s postpone that.  Postpone to when you are older, a lot older!

Now, as you know the dangerous effects of the sun, do I seem paranoid?  Of course, I’m not saying that people should be nocturnal and not go out during the day.  I am saying that sun exposure should be limited. 

By wearing sunblock every day, sun protective clothing, or even a hat and big sunglasses. Why not wear all of them? 

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