Everyone needs some sun. It is the best natural source of Vitamin D, and you do feel good in the sun. But the sun’s rays are all ultraviolet in nature that are real bad for you! It emits UVA, UVB and UVC rays. All of the UVC and most of the UVB rays get absorbed by the ozone layer surrounding the earth. Nevertheless, a lot of these bad UV’s reach us leading to an increased incidence of skin cancers world-over.
Beauty trends and personal lifestyle needs have taken sun exposure to dangerous levels. The very need to look good and possess a tanned body has brought about the invention of artificial tanning beds that use pure UV rays for the tanned effect 🙁 Tanning beds have only added to the number of UV radiation based illnesses.
UV radiation can lead to acute or chronic health effects, affecting the overall immune system, eyes and skin cancers. Let us look at 5 harmful effects of UV radiation.
- Suntans, sunburns, and skin aging – Premature skin aging, sunburn or erythema (reddening of the skin), and suntans are the most commonly seen acute effects of UV exposure. Tanning of the skin occurs due to stimulation of melanin production after exposure to UV rays, natural or artificial. It is the body’s defense mechanism against sun damage. Prolonged exposure can degenerate the skin leading to serious chronic damage.
- Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers – Non-melanoma cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are chronic effects of UV radiation that can be surgically treated. Though they are rarely lethal, they cause pain and disfigurement as they are most commonly found in exposed areas of the body like ears, face, neck, forearms, etc.
- Malignant Melanoma – Lethal, fatal and one of the major causes in death due to skin cancer, malignant melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers known. People with fair complexions, red or light colored hair, lower threshold of erythema and continuous exposure to UV rays from tanning beds are more prone to this chronic cancer.
- Eyes – The eyes are one of the most sensitive, exposed parts of our body. Prolonged UV radiation exposure can lead to acute effects like photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis, inflammation of the eyeballs and eyelids. Though the effects of both these conditions can be reversed, they are quite painful. Cataract can be caused due to too much sun exposure and UV radiation. In its chronic stage, cataracts can even cause blindness.
- Immune System – Studies have revealed that UV exposure can reduce the body’s defenses that protect against development of skin tumors. These lowered defenses can also increase risks of infection with viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
A tanned body sure looks good, but too much of tanning – natural and artificial – has serious ill-effects. Think of tanning with these foods 🙂 Avoid the sun, use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 and above all ditch the tanning bed habit!
Share your tips on how to practice sun safety in the comments below (Y)
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