As the summer approaches and we spend more time out of doors, it is time to think about UV rays and the damage they can be doing. July is National UV Awareness Month. We have all heard of UV rays and know they can do damage, but what exactly are they? And how can they affect us? This month we will take a look at UV Rays, how they can damage your skin, and what you need to do to stay safe in the sun.
What Are UV Rays?
Found primarily in sunlight and tanning beds, Ultraviolet radiation is a kind of light that is the main risk factor for skin cancer. There are three types of UV radiation:
UVA rays, which can cause cells to age and can damage the DNA of skin cells.
UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and also thought to cause skin cancer as they can directly affect the cells’ DNA.
UVC rays are unable to penetrate our atmosphere and are not normally thought to be linked to cancer.
UVA and UVB rays only make up a small percentage of sunlight. However, they are strong and are, therefore, the main cause of the sun’s damage to our skin. UV rays can damage skin cells, including the gene that controls the growth of skin cells. It is this damage that acts as the starting point for skin cancer. Although UVB rays are thought to be the most potent cause of damage, no UV rays are entirely harmless.
Is All UV Exposure Bad?
We do need small amounts of UV exposure to help us to produce vitamin D, which is found in its primary source in sunlight. In fact, UV radiation is sometimes used as a treatment for diseases including rickets, eczema, jaundice, and psoriasis. However, the amount of exposure to UV actually needed by the body for vitamin D is minimal; staying out in the noon sun without wearing cream or covering up is much more dangerous than it is beneficial.
Who Is Affected By UV Rays?
It is a common misconception that only fair skinned people can suffer the damage of UV rays. Sun damage is more common in fairer skin, as darker skin pigmentation means more melanin in the skin to provide protection from the sun’s rays. However, people with dark skin can still develop skin cancer. What’s more, because skin cancer is so much less prevalent in people with darker skin, it is usually picked up later, when it has progressed. The risks of UV radiation on the eye and immune system are equal, regardless of skin type. For more information about the health risks of UV rays, read How Can UV Rays Affect You.
About Angeles Health
Angeles Health is Mexico’s largest network of private hospitals. We provide private medical healthcare for tourists from Canada and the United States and treating a range of conditions, including alternative cancer treatment, bone marrow transplant treatment, weight loss surgery and cosmetic surgery.
If you would like to know more about Angeles Health or the range of state of the art, low cost healthcare that we provide, contact us to speak to a US based case manager.