How UV radiation affects our health

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Due to the depletion of the ozone layer, it diminishes the natural protection of our atmosphere from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Always bear in mind that there are major health problems connected to UV radiation overexposure. It is important to fully understand the risks involved and the appropriate precautions to consider in order lessen the chances of getting sun-related health problems.

Skin cancer

Exposure to the UV rays of the sun can cause skin cancer. Always remember that skin cancer is considered as the most common form of cancer. The UV radiation from the sun as well as from tanning beds has been classified as carcinogens to the human body. Obviously, exposure to UV radiation without adequate protection is one of the risk factors for skin cancer. With this in mind, it is important to protect the skin by using umbrellas or wearing hats as well as applying sunscreen protection.

  • Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and common among young adults and adolescents. Sunburns and exposure to UV radiation during childhood are risk factors for the condition. Not all melanomas are caused by sun exposure and can be due to immune system deficiencies and genetic factors.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancers are less lethal unlike with melanoma. If they are left untreated, it can lead to disfigurement and potential health problems. There are two main types – basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. As long as they are treated early, they are not fatal.

Early aging of the skin and damage

UV radiation
Constant sun exposure causes premature aging of the skin.

Exposure to UV radiation includes premature aging of the skin and actinic keratosis. With actinic keratosis, they are skin growths that develop on areas that are exposed to the sun especially the hands, face, forearms and the neck. If there are elevated, red-colored and rough, it is best to seek immediate medical attention.

Understandably, constant exposure to the sun can lead to premature aging and over time can make the skin wrinkled, thick and leathery. This occurs gradually and often manifests years after. Take note that premature aging is often unavoidable and considered as a normal part of the aging process. If adequate protection from UV radiation is provided, premature aging can be avoided.

Cataracts and other damages to the eye

As a form of eye damage, cataracts involve the loss of transparency in the lens. If this condition is left untreated, it can lead to blindness. Obviously, UV radiation increases the risk for cataracts. Even though easily treated with modern eye surgery, cataracts have affected the eyesight of many individuals all over the world.

Other types of eye damage due to UV radiation include skin cancer around the eyes, pterygium and degeneration of the macula. The risk for these can be minimized by using proper eye protection such as wearing sunglasses that offer UV protection.

Suppression of immune system

It was discovered that constant exposure to UV radiation can suppress the proper functioning of the immune system as well as the natural defenses of the skin. Always bear in mind that your skin serves as a defense against foreign invaders but overexposure to UV radiation will weaken the immune system, diminishing the ability of the skin to protect against invaders.


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