UV And Your Health
Solar Ultraviolet [UV] light
Solar Ultraviolet [UV] light has both beneficial and
very damaging effects on the health.
Beneficial UV Impact On The Body
Humans obtain at least 90% of their dietary requirements
of Vitamin D by synthesis in the skin following exposure
to UV. The main role of Vitamin D is to maintain sufficient
calcium in the body by increasing the intestinal absorption
of calcium. Vitamin Ddeficiency is a worldwide issue
and its links to osteoporosis and rickets.Vitamin C
also assists with this process, as such vitamins D,
Vitamin C and Calcuium are often packaged into a single
Detrimental UV Impact on The Body
UV has damaging impact on the skin, eye, immune system
and thermal system.
UV Skin Damage
Excessive UV exposure results in a number of chronic
skin changes, including skin cancers, an increased number
of moles and damage to keratinocytes and blood vessels.
UV damage to fibrous tissue is described as "photoageing".
Photoaged skin loses its tightness and sags or wrinkles,
making people look older.
UV Eye Damage
UV exposure of the eye depends on ground reflection,
the degree of brightness activatiing the squint reflex,
amount of atmospheric refection, and the use of eyewear.
The effects of UV on the eye include:
- Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis - short
term ‘sunburn’ of the delicate skin-like
tissue on the surface of the eyeball (cornea) and
eyelids. These conditions are reversible and easily
prevented by protective eyewear.
- Pterygium - a white or cream coloured opaque growth
attached to the cornea
- Squamous cell cancer of the conjunctiva
- approximately 20 million people worldwide are currently
blind as a result of cataracts. WHO estimates that
up to 20% of these may be due to UV exposure.
- Visual Impairment - direct viewing of the sun and
other extremely bright objects can seriously damage
the retina fovea [macula leutea]. Fovea destruction
results in loss of fine detail vision, making reading,
watching television, driving, or doing any fine tasks
UV Immune Damage
UV appears to alter immune response triggering system.
This immune suppression results in enhanced susceptibility
to certain infectious diseases with skin involvement,
and some systemic infections. Additional research is
necessary to substantiate this further.
UV Thermal Damage
Solar light also has infrared radiation. Excessive
infrared radiation can result in heat strokes and other
similar reactions particularly in elderly, infirm or
At moderate levels this warmth is relaxing and restorative.
However, a child's skin is thinner and more sensitive
and even short periods exposed to the midday sun can
result in serious burns.
Up to 80 per cent of a person's lifetime exposure
to UV is received before the age of 18. Epidemiological
studies have shown that frequent sun exposure and sunburn
in childhood leads to higher rates of melanoma later
Having experienced several occurances of sunstroke
as a child, I can attest to the impact at the time,
and the damage now seen in my skin at age 50.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and is made
up of two main layers:
- Outer epidermis -flat squamous cells
- Inner dermis - Basal cells are small, round cells
in the base of the outer layer of skin, found below
the squamous cells. Melanocytes are in the deepest
layer of epidermis.
The skin protects the body against heat and light,
injury, and infection. It helps regulate body temperature,
stores water and fat, and produces vitamin D.
cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the skin.
There are 3 types of skin cancer, named according to
the skin cell affected:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma (nonmelanoma
skin cancer), People whose skin tans poorly or burns
easily after sun exposure are particularly susceptible
to nonmelanoma skin cancer. These people in particular
may benefit by following prevention methods for nonmelanoma
basal cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma are
the most common forms of skin cancer, but are easier
to cure than melanoma.
Melanoma is cancer in cells that make pigment. Fair
skin people and those who have a large number of abnormal
moles may have an increased risk of developing melanoma
skin cancer. Preliminary evidence suggests risk of melanoma
is related to intermittent exposure to UV, especially
in childhood, and to exposure to sunlamps.
Melanoma is among the fastest rising forms of cancer,"
says Edward De Fabo, an ultraviolet (UV) radiation and
skin cancer researcher at George Washington University,
in Washington, DC. "It used to be rare in young
people, but we see increasing cases of melanoma in people
under 25 years of age. Higher levels of ultraviolet
B rays (the most harmful) have been linked to the suppression
of immune systems in humans.
Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in
the United States and isincreasing each year. The number
of deaths due to skin cancer, however, is relatively
It is not known whether using sunscreen
lowers the risk of either squamous cell carcinoma or
basal cell carcinoma.
Ozone & UV
Ozone is formed in the earth's stratosphere and is
critical to life on earth. The ozone layer covers the
entire planet at an altitude of between 15 and 30 km,
and protects living organisms from the sun's harmful
rays.CFCs, an artificial compound, are very destructive
Most light is UVA. Whilst UV-A light, is relatively
benign to humans and most plant life; UV-B is extremely
damaging to both humans and plants. As ozone decreases,
the UV-B radiation reaching the surface increases.
Countries in the Southern Hemisphere are exposed to
high ultra violet (UV) radiation during spring when
the Antarctic ozone hole opens; increasing by 25%. Higher
UV levels are linked to increases in skin cancer, cataracts
and eye lesions, and other diseases.
This year's  Antarctic ozone 'hole' is the largest
on record," said Achim Steiner, executive director
of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
10 Health Protection & Checks
- Be wise about health and UV related cancers:
- Monitor UV levels each day
- Keep out of the sun between 10am – 2pm.
- Wear sunblock
with SPF30+. SPF15 is no longer adequate in ozone
depleted layers such as Argentina, New Zealand, UK
- Wipe it on thickly at least 15 minutes before going
outdoors to give it enough time to dry and bond with
- Reapply 15 minutes after the first application to
ensure complete coverage AND reapply after physical
activity, swimming or towel drying.
- Use skin antioxidant creams
- Take supplementary Antioxidants , especially with
- Check your skin for any change in skin coloration
or existing moles.
- Have annual skin checks. This includes Mole maps.
Many changes in skin cells can not be detected with
the naked eye. Two high tech programs – Mole
Max and Derm Doc are used to detect changes in cells
below the skins surface.
Asked Questions About Sun Protection Creams
Protection Product Reviews
Protection Product Frequently Asked Questions
Academy of Dermatology
Environmental Protection Agency