Link between Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer

Lots of people love the sun. It helps makes us feel good, and sometimes, just a dose of sunlight helps keep us from getting depressed. Those who would love to get a tan sure love to stay longer hours under the sun. However, while it might give you the shade of color you like, it also will give you wrinkles and sun or age spot on the face.

And while we think that a glowing complexion signifies good health, a touch of color acquired from exposure to the sun is actually not that healthy. Too much sun exposure not only gives us wrinkles and sun spots, but it could also lead, eventually, to skin cancer.

Exposure to the sun leads to several of the changes in our skin that we believe to be a part of normal aging. As time goes by, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage elastin, the fiber that is in our skin. When elastin breaks down, the sin then starts to stretch, get saggy, and lose the ability to return to its place right after stretching. The skin could also bruise and tear a lot easier and it will also need more time to heal. So, it might not be clear to you at the moment, especially while still young, it will definitely become very obvious later on in your life.

Several changes can be observed in the skin which is linked to sun exposure. These include:

  • Freckles
  • Fine or coarse wrinkles
  • Discoloration in some parts of the skin, otherwise known as mottled pigmentation
  • A yellowish skin discoloration, otherwise known as sallowness
  • Destruction of elastic tissue, which is why lines and wrinkles appear, otherwise known as elastosis
  • Dilation of tiny blood vessels located beneath the skin, otherwise known as telangiectasias
  • Benign tumors
  • Skin lesions, either precancerous or actinic keratosis, or cancerous (squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma). This is due to the lost immune function of the skin

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States and until now, the amount of cases is continuously rising. With it, there is a growth of abnormal skin cells that is not being controlled by the appropriate body systems. Cancer cells grow quite rapidly, as opposed to the orderly growth of healthy cells. The resulting product is tumors, which could be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

Causes

Exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun is believed to be the leading cause of cancer. However, other sources of UV light include tanning beds and similar devices. These also prove to be similarly harmful. Regardless of the season, whether it is winter or summer, the same risk of exposure is just the same. UV rays can travel through clouds and with the cumulative effect of our continuous sun exposure, then the probability of skin cancer is, more or less, always just around the corner.

Prevention

The best way to help prevent skin cancer from occurring is to keep our skin healthy and minimize our exposure to the sun. Sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more applied about 30 minutes before going out can be very helpful. Reapply this lotion every 2 or 3 hours later. Sunglasses also provide protection as do wide-brimmed hats. Keeping our skin well hydrated by taking ample amount of fluids each day help keep our skin healthy as well. Smoking appears to have an effect in our skin, so it should be kept to a minimum, if not totally avoided. Those who smoke are often found to have more wrinkles than those who don’t.

 

Image courtesy of kahilas.blogspot.com

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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