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Harmful Effects of Too Much Exposure to the Sun

The people enjoy the sun Some, even, have adored him. Sunlight is essential for many living beings. However, sunlight also has a dangerous side. It can damage the skin and even the eyes. The good news is that you can take some relatively simple measures to protect your body from sun damage and thus continue to enjoy the sun’s healthful effects.

Our bodies were designed to take advantage of the sun. Sunlight helps keep our sleep patterns on track so we can stay awake during the day and sleep deeply at night. Taking too little sun, especially in the winter months, can make some people prone to a form of depression known as  seasonal affective disorder . Sunlight also helps the skin produce vitamin D, which is necessary for normal bone function and health. However, sunlight can also cause damage.

 Illustration of a family under the shade of an awning on the beach.Sunlight travels to Earth as a mixture of visible and invisible rays or waves. Long waves, like radio waves, are harmless to people. However, shorter waves, such as ultraviolet (UV) light, can cause problems. The longest rays of these UV waves that reach the surface of the Earth are called UVA rays. The shorter ones are called UVB rays.

Too much exposure to UVB rays can cause burns. UVA rays can penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, but, in any case, both can affect health. When UV rays invade skin cells, they alter delicate processes that affect their growth and appearance.

Over time, exposure to these rays can reduce the elasticity of the skin, which can even thicken and become leathery, or it can wrinkle or thin out like tissue paper. “The more you are exposed to the sun, the older your skin ages,” says Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, an expert on cancer prevention at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The skin has ways to prevent or repair such damage. The outermost layer of the skin constantly sheds the dead cells and replaces them. You will have noticed this type of skin repair if you have ever suffered a strong sunburn. The skin may peel, but usually returns to normal in one or two weeks.

“When you are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, there is a constant repair process in each of your exposed cells,” says Dr. Stephen I. Katz, director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at NIH. Even so, there may be permanent damage to the skin.

As you get older, it is harder for your skin to repair itself. Over time, ultraviolet damage can harm the skin and the underlying connective tissue. As a result, your skin can develop more lines and wrinkles.

Too much exposure to the sun can also increase the risk of skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States. When UV light enters skin cells, it can damage the genetic material (called DNA) that is inside it.

Damage to DNA can cause changes in the cells and cause them to grow and divide rapidly. This growth may result in additional groups of cells known as tumors or lesions, which may be cancerous (malignant) or harmless (benign).

Skin cancer may initially appear as a small spot on the skin. Some cancers can extend deeply into the surrounding tissues; It can also spread from the skin to other organs of the body.

Each year, more than 2 million people are treated for two types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These cancers are seen in both older and younger people, and are rarely fatal.

Melanoma is a less common but more serious type of skin cancer, diagnosed in more than 68,000 Americans per year. Another 48,000 are diagnosed with an early form of the disease that only compromises the top layer of the skin. Melanomas originate in the cells that provide the pigment (color) to the skin.

The risk of melanoma is higher if members of your family have had skin cancer or if you have already had melanoma or other skin cancers. An important risk factor for melanoma is having a large number of moles, or large flat moles with irregular shapes. Sunburn, especially during childhood, can also increase the risk of melanoma.

“If you have already had skin cancer, the risk of you developing another skin cancer is particularly high,” Kramer says. “In the long term, there is a high rate of new lesions in development.”

“One of the main factors that affect skin health is genetics, since it determines the pigment content of the skin. This affects the level of protection against natural sunlight you have, “explains Katz. While people with darker skin have a lower risk of getting the disease and suffering sun-related damage, people of all skin types and colors can get skin cancer.

“Certain genetic mutations contribute to the appearance of melanoma in certain people. One finds much less non-melanoma skin cancer in African-Americans, in people in the Middle East or even in Asians in the Near East, “says Katz.

The best way to protect the health of the skin and prevent skin cancer is to limit exposure to the sun. Avoid it being prolonged and choose to be in the shade instead of in direct sunlight. Wear protective clothing, glasses, and sunscreen between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunscreen is especially important between these hours, when the sun’s rays are most intense.

“The time to start protecting yourself from the sun is not when you reach adulthood, but years before,” says Kramer. “The message to parents is this: Now is the time to start protecting your children against skin damage from overexposure to the sun; their children are developing habits with regard to sun exposure and potentially have many more years of solar exposure ahead. ” Among other dermoprotective habits, teach children and adolescents to avoid the use of tanning beds.

Sunscreens are labeled with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15, 30 or 50. A sunscreen labeled with an SPF of 15 means that it will take 15 times longer to burn, compared to what it would take without using any sunscreen. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 means that it would take 30 times longer to burn.

The effectiveness of sunscreens is affected by several factors. The active ingredients in a sunscreen break down over time, so be sure to check the expiration date on the package. The amount you use and the frequency of use affect your protection from the sun; Perspiration and time in the water can also reduce the effectiveness of sun protection.

Some people seek the sun as a source of vitamin D, but it takes only a moment to take advantage of the sun in this regard. “One needs very little exposure; It’s enough between 10 or 15 minutes a day on the back of the hands, arms and face, “says Katz.

Certain factors such as cloudy days or having dark skin can reduce the amount of vitamin D that your skin generates. However, you can also get vitamin D from certain foods or dietary supplements. Consult your health care provider if you should take vitamin D supplements.

Limit your time in the sun to protect the skin against premature wrinkles, damage and illness. “Smart behavior in the face of the sun is a good thing,” says Katz. And if you see a suspicious spot on the skin, Kramer advises that you make sure they check it.

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