Being smart about sun exposure

08/08/2014 4:26 PM

08/08/2014 4:28 PM

In the Central Valley we see a lot of sun. Sunlight is beneficial for many reasons. It helps our skin make vitamin D, which is needed for healthy bones, and has been linked to easing mild depression. However, too much sunlight exposure can be harmful to skin and eyes.

Although this is not new information to most, it’s never a bad idea to remind people about being safe when out in the sun.

Sunlight travels to Earth in a mixture of ultraviolet rays, long waves are harmless to people, but shorter waves, such as ultraviolet light, can be dangerous.

According to a July report from the National Institutes of Health, too much exposure to ultraviolet light is what leads to sunburn, and when UV rays enter skin cells, they intervene with processes that affect the skin’s growth and appearance. Over time, the skin can become wrinkly and leathery. Although the skin does have ways to repair itself, the repairing process becomes harder as one gets older.

A big concern is skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Each year, more then 2 million people are treated for 2 types of skin cancer: basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, the NIH report said. These are two types of cancers that usually develop on sun-exposed areas, especially the head and neck. These cancers, which were typically seen in middle-aged people and older adults, are becoming more common in young adults, the American Cancer Society reports.

To protect your skin from sun damage, experts recommend staying in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.. Using sunscreen SPF 15 or higher, protecting your eyes with sunglasses that are labeled to guard against UVA and UVB, and wearing protective clothing can help block sun damage. Experts also recommend that people seek medical attention if they see a suspicious spot or mark on their skin.

About This Blog

Latest on health research and technology and how it could affect Merced. Info on upcoming health-related workshops and resources in the area. @ab_ibarra

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