Why Is Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) So Harmful?

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Summer is in full swing, and that means many people are spending as much time outdoors as they possibly can, enjoying the sunshine and warmer temps. But with more sunshine and warmer temps comes intensified UV radiation, which can damage our skin and eyes.
Why is Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) so Harmful?
You’ve heard UV rays are bad, but did you know that the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have declared them a carcinogen?
You may also not be aware there are three different types of UV radiation, each emitting a different wavelength:
UVA Radiation: That “A” on the end stands for aging, by the way! UVA has wavelengths between 320 and 400 nm that can penetrate deep layers of the skin.
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In either scenario, the skin has been damaged. When UVB (burn) hits the skin, skin cells die and parts of their non-coding micro-RNA become damaged and break. Surrounding cells detect this damage and set off a series of reactions to inflame the skin around their dead brethren. This inflammation allows the skin to heal by removing the dead cells that may have undergone genetic mutations. (Yes, genetic mutations caused by the sun’s UV rays!) These mutations (which I’ll discuss a little bit later) are the basis of cancer formations. Your skin peels because the body is trying to remove these potential cancer-forming cells.
An extra word of caution: Do not think that on cloudy days your skins is safe from harmful UV rays. Even on days of light cloud cover, 80% pf UV rays can still reach the Earth’s surface and you can still get sunburned and skin damage.
Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is actually the most common form of cancer in the United States, with over 70,000 people diagnosed each year. There are thee forms of skin cancer that are the most
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Long-term UV exposure can even lead to melanoma of the eye.
Wrinkles
Let’s end on a vain note, shall we, and talk about those fine lines and wrinkles that are a result of too much sun exposure. That’s right, UV radiation is one of the primary causes of aging.
When the collagen and elastin fibers are exposed to UV rays, they break down and the flexibility of the skin is reduced. Once this flexibility starts to decrease, our skin starts to sag because it can no longer “snap back” when pulled or stretched. This is why when many of us that are of a “certain age” wake up in the morning, we have lines on our faces from the pillow case, and these lines can take hours to finally fade.
How to Protect Yourself from UV Radiation Exposure
Now that you understand the risks of too much sun exposure, let’s look at some practical ways you can protect yourself from the dangers of harmful UV rays:
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