Every day, people everywhere live their lives coming into and out of contact with the sun. The sun provides for practically all of life on earth so it is rare that people stop and think that there could be any consequences of too much sun light. What is sun exposure? Who does it affect? Can it be harmful? All of these questions should be strongly considered since every person in the world is affected by the sun. Sun exposure affects peoples’ skin, eyes, and can even cause cancer; therefore with the proper protection and knowledge more and more people can be protected from the sun’s harmful effects.
To start off, the sun’s main harmful effect on humans is harm to their skin. The sun releases UVA and UVB rays, in which the skin uptakes. “UVA activates melanin pigment already present in the upper skin cells,”( The Known Health Effects of UV) this is what gives people the tan shade of skin that they want. Many people strive to have dark, tan skin but they are unaware of the harm that it does to their bodies.
Not only does UVA enter into the skin, but it also goes deeper and further down into blood vessels and connective tissue, “As a result the skin gradually loses its elasticity and starts to wrinkle. Therefore, large doses of UVA cause premature ageing. ” (The Known Health Effects of UV) The more UVA rays taken up through peoples’ skin, the more likely they will one day be prone to skin cancer. On another note, UVB rays are just as harmful to human skin. These are the rays which create new melanin pigments in the skin which lead to a dark tan color after a few days.
“Higher doses of UVB cause sunburn which increases your likelihood of developing cancer. ” (The Known Health Effects of UV) Although these rays do harm the skin and higher the risk of skin cancer, they also thicken the skin which provides immune defense and defense against further UV rays. (The Known Health Effects of UV) Another part of the body in which sun has an effect on, is the eye. Many people are taught at a young age to never look straight into the sun, and there is a good reason for that.
The rays released by the sun are absorbed by the eye and in some cases, have irreversible effects such as blindness. A well known cause of blindness due to sun rays are cataracts. “Proteins in the eye’s lens unravel, tangle and accumulate pigments which cloud the lens and eventually lead to blindness. Even though cataracts appear to different degrees in most individuals as they age, they appear to be enhanced by exposure to UVB. ” (The Known Health Effects of UV) These UVB rays can be avoided by simply wearing a pair of UV ray protective sunglasses.
The body tries its best on its own from protecting its eyes from sunlight by pupil constriction, closing eyes, and eye squinting, (World Health Organization) but sunglasses give them the extra help they need. Admittedly, there is a large desire for a “fashionable tan. ” “Teens and adults have spent more time in the sun (and in tanning booths) than their skin can tolerate. ”(Focus on Health, 243) Due to high demand for a nice looking tan, there has been increased rates starting in 2010 of more than 1 million Americans who developed basal or squamous cell skin cancer as well as 68,130 cases of highly dangerous malignant melanoma were diagnosed.
(Focus on Health, 242) The most frequent type of skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma which is, “Abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis. ” (Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)) The second most frequent type of skin cancer is called Squamous Cell Carcinoma which consists of, “An uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers.
” (Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)) Lastly there is Melanoma which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, “These cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. ”(Melanoma) All of these types of skin cancer are very dangerous and practically 11,790 deaths occurred in 2010 with about 75 percent of those were a result of Melanoma. (Focus on Health, 242).
Furthermore, there are many ways in which to defend against harmful sun exposure. These ways are simple and could potentially prevent cancer from forming later in life. Some of these defenses include: “Applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or greater 30 minutes before sun exposure and then every few hours thereafter, selecting clothing, cosmetic products, and contact lenses that offer UV protection, wearing sunglasses with total UV protection, and by avoiding direct sun exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours (between 10:00 a. m.and 3:00 p. m. ).
” (Sun Exposure, Skin Cancer, and Other Sun Damage) However, if there is already preexisting sun damage to skin, it may be difficult to fully recover those parts of the body; which is why it would be a good idea for parents to help their children prevent cancer later in life by restricting their outdoor play from 11 a. m. to 2 p. m. (Focus On Health, 243) Although there are many health risks to sun exposure, there some cases in which UV ray exposure can be beneficial. For example, the sun is a primary source of Vitamin D which is needed to maintain good health.
If a person has a Vitamin D deficiency, something he or she might do is spend some time in outside the sun. The sun and UV rays can also be used to help to treat some diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, jaundice, and rickets. (World Health Organization) In the case of psoriasis, “UVB penetrates the skin and slows the growth of affected skin cells. ”(Phototherapy) It is healthy to get a small amount of sun about every day, but when people are spending hours at a time, without any protection, that is when problems will start to arise. In conclusion, the sun is something every person on this Earth has to come in contact with.
Sun exposure affects peoples’ skin, eyes, and can even cause cancer; therefore with the proper protection and this knowledge, more and more people can be protected from the sun’s harmful effects. There are many different types of dangers and risks that are associated with UVA and UVB rays. A person has to be careful not to overdo the amount of sun he or she is exposed to. If the time is taken to properly protect one’s self, the less there is of a risk of dangers such as skin cancer due to sun exposure. Sun exposure can be prevented.
Work Cited: “Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). ” Skin Cancer Foundation. The Skin Cancer Foundation, n. d. Web.01 May 2013. Hahn, Dale B. , and Wayne A. Payne. “Chapter 10. ” Focus on Health. 11th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Year Book, 1991. N. pag. Print. “Melanoma. ” Skin Cancer Foundation. The Skin Cancer Foundation, n. d. Web. 01 May 2013. “Phototherapy. ”
Treating Psoriasis: Light Therapy and Phototherapy. National Psoriasis Foundation, n. d. Web. 01 May 2013. “Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). ” Skin Cancer Foundation. The Skin Cancer Foundation, n. d. Web. 01 May 2013. “Sun Exposure, Skin Cancer, and Other Sun Damage. ” WebMD. WebMD, n. d. Web. 01 May 2013. “The Known Health Effects of UV. ” WHO. World Health Organization, n. d. Web. 01 May 2013.