Summer Sun Safety: Protect Yourself from UV Radiation

Fun in the sun will be on everyone’s list of things to do during the spring and summer months, but these are not the only times you should practice protective measures. Keeping yourself and others protected from UV radiation is an important, year-round responsibility.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation that is emitted by the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds. While it has some benefits for people, including the creation of Vitamin D, it also can cause health risks.

Our natural source of UV radiation:

The sun

Some artificial sources of UV radiation include:

  • Tanning beds
  • Mercury vapor lighting (often found in stadiums and school gyms)
  • Some halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent lights
  • Some types of lasers

What are the different types of UV radiation rays?

UV radiation is classified into three primary types: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC). These groups are based on the measure of their wavelength, which is measured in nanometers (nm= 0.000000001 meters or 1×10-9 meters).

All of the UVC and most of the UVB radiation is absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer, so nearly all of the ultraviolet radiation received on Earth is UVA. UVA and UVB radiation can both affect health. Even though UVA radiation is weaker than UVB, it penetrates deeper into the skin and is more constant throughout the year. Since UVC radiation is absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer, it does not pose as much of a risk.

Benefits

Beneficial effects of UV radiation include the production of vitamin D, a vitamin essential to human health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food and assists bone development. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure 2 to 3 times a week.

Risks

  • Sunburn is a sign of short-term overexposure, while premature aging and skin cancer are side effects of prolonged UV exposure.
  • Some oral and topical medicines, such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and benzoyl peroxide products, as well as some cosmetics, may increase skin and eye sensitivity to UV in all skin types.
  • UV exposure increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases, if eye protection is not used.
  • Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to serious health issues, including cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Typically, they form on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms because these body parts are the most exposed to UV radiation. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to UV radiation.

Anyone can get skin cancer, but is more common in people who:

  • Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned.
  • Have light-color skin, hair, and eyes.
  • Have a family member with skin cancer.
  • Are over age 50.

To protect yourself from UV radiation:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
  • Consider options to protect your children.
  • Wear a wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, for both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of developing melanoma.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Advertisements

Video: The World’s Most Unavoidable Carcinogen

Out in the open air on a beautiful summer day, most people don’t realize that they’re bathing in the world’s most common carcinogen – the sun’s rays. Ultra violet (UV) rays to be exact. Let’s take a look at how UV rays affect your body, and the sorts of built-in chemical defense systems you’re working with to stop any potential damage.

Watch video at You Tube (3:04 minutes) . . . . .

Sun-exposure Sensor

Nidhi Subbaraman wrote . . . . .

MC10, the Lexington maker of peel-off, stick-on wearable sensors that cling to skin like tattoos, has announced the first product to emerge from its partnership with L’Oreal, the world’s largest maker of cosmetics.

“My UV Patch” measures UV radiation from the sun and is MC10’s second commercial product, following the Reebok CheckLight, a sensor-embedded skullcap worn by athletes to measure the intensity of impacts to the head.

The UV patch “looks like a second skin,” said Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oreal Technology Incubator. L’Oreal is testing the product with plans to begin selling it later this year, the two companies are expected to announce Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The companies did not disclose the price.

Shaped like a heart and thinner than a strand of hair, the patch won’t beep a warning if you’ve been in the sun too long. Rather, a dye on the surface changes color with increasing sun exposure. The patch is paired with a smartphone app that reads the color change, then tells wearers how their exposure compares to levels deemed healthy.

The patch is waterproof and can be worn up to five days, according to the company. It will also work when slathered with a layer of sunscreen.

Source: The Boston Globe


Today’s Comic

Here Comes the Sun to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Exposing skin to sunlight may help to reduce blood pressure and thus cut the risk of heart attack and stroke, a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests.

Research carried out at the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh shows that sunlight alters levels of the small messenger molecule, nitric oxide (NO) in the skin and blood, reducing blood pressure.

Martin Feelisch, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Integrative Biology at the University of Southampton, comments: “NO along with its breakdown products, known to be abundant in skin, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of NO are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone; as blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

While limiting sunlight exposure is important to prevent skin cancer, the authors of the study, including Dr Richard Weller of the University of Edinburgh, suggest that minimising exposure may be disadvantageous by increasing the risk of prevalent conditions related to cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease, often associated with high blood pressure, accounts for 30 per cent of deaths globally each year. Blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are known to vary according to season and latitude, with higher levels observed in winter and in countries further from the equator, where ultraviolet radiation from the sun is lower.

During the study, the skin of 24 healthy individuals was exposed to ultraviolet (UVA) light from tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each. In one session, the volunteers were exposed to both the UVA rays and the heat of the lamps. In another, the UV rays were blocked so that only the heat of the lamps affected the skin.

The results suggest that UVA exposure dilates blood vessels, significantly lowers blood pressure, and alters NO metabolite levels in the circulation, without changing vitamin D levels. Further experiments indicate that pre-formed stores of NO in the upper skin layers are involved in mediating these effects. The data are consistent with the seasonal variation of blood pressure and cardiovascular risk at temperate latitudes.

Professor Feelisch adds: “These results are significant to the ongoing debate about potential health benefits of sunlight and the role of Vitamin D in this process. It may be an opportune time to reassess the risks and benefits of sunlight for human health and to take a fresh look at current public health advice. Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Perhaps with the exception of bone health, the effects of oral vitamin D supplementation have been disappointing.

“We believe that NO from the skin is an important, so far overlooked contributor to cardiovascular health. In future studies we intend to test whether the effects hold true in a more chronic setting and identify new nutritional strategies targeted at maximizing the skin’s ability to store NO and deliver it to the circulation more efficiently.”

Source: University of Southampton