What are the effects of increased exposure to UV radiation?



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    Sunburn and skin cancer!  When a person is sunburnt, it causes cell death in some of their skin cells, and if the skin cells don’t heal themselves correctly (say, if they change fundamentally at the DNA level) the cells instead grow into skin cancer.

    The Canadian Occupational Safety and Health organization has a good analysis of the connection between sun exposure and skin cancer:

    If exposure to sunlight continues for several years, the damaged skin has an increased chance of developing one of the forms of skin cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation increases the risk of developing these cancers (although it may not be the only cause of the disease). While the exact relationship is not 100% defined, it appears that intermittent (occasional) exposure and exposure during childhood and adolescence are likely important predictors for basal cell carcinoma, and cutaneous malignant melanoma. High levels of chronic exposure, such as working outdoors, is more often associated with squamous cell tumours.

    The following facts also link sunlight exposure to skin cancer:

    • Most skin cancer occurs in areas of skin most heavily exposed to sunlight (ears, forehead, arms, etc).
    • Skin cancer among people who are sensitive to sunlight is more common in regions with stronger sunlight.
    • People with genetic diseases that make them more sensitive to sunlight have a greater chance of developing skin cancer.
    • Studies show that ultraviolet radiation similar to sunlight causes skin cancer in animals.

    SO, as they say, trust me on the sunscreen!

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