The sun — it’s been around for a pretty long time. So why is it that, in the last couple of decades, we’re hearing more and more about the dangers of the sun? Surely something that has given life to the human race and which we’ve lived with for countless millennia can’t be that bad? While this skepticism is understandable, the fact is that the sun is dangerous. In this article, we’ll explain exactly why. We’ll also list some of the biggest risks of sun exposure, as well as some steps that can be taken to deter the harmful effects of the sun, such as using sun screen or installing roller blinds in your home.
Why is the sun dangerous?
The first thing to understand is that it is not sunlight that harms us. On the contrary, it is the sun’s rays that we cannot see that cause damage. These come in the form of UV rays — more specifically, UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. The latter, UV-C, are the most dangerous rays of all, but luckily, they are unable to reach the earth’s atmosphere and do us harm. However, UV-A and UV-B can break through our ozone layer, carrying too much energy for our body to handle. It can mess with our molecules and knock electrons from atoms, leading to changes in our chemical structure, resulting in sunburn (at best) or even skin cancer (at worst).
What are the biggest risks of sun exposure?
This causes the skin to redden, blister and generally cause a heck of a lot of pain. Additionally, continuous exposure to the sun and resulting sunburn can eventually lead to skin cancer.
2. Premature ageing
Chronic exposure to the sun over an extended period of time can cause changes in the skin resulting in severe degeneration. This can create a thick, wrinkled and leathery look that makes people look older than they are.
3. Basal cell carcinoma
A cancerous condition that forms in the basal layer of the skin, just beneath the surface. While rarely dangerous, it may metastasise if it is able to invade blood vessels.
A form of cancer that begins in the cells that make the pigment melanin, melanomas generally begin as a mole and can rapidly grow into a life-threatening cancer. In fact, there are over 10,000 cases of melanoma in Australia every year.
The sun can cause cataracts, a type of damage to the eye which can cloud vision due to a loss of transparency in the lens. If not treated immediately, cataracts can even cause full-blown blindness.
How can I protect myself from the sun?
Despite these dangers, it’s not advisable to avoid the sun altogether — after all, the sun provides Vitamin D that is essential to the absorption of calcium and our overall health. However, if you intend to stay out in the sun for longer than 15 minutes, you should always use sun screen, as eventually those harmful UV-rays are going to begin wreaking havoc on your skin.
Additionally, you should consider installing plenty of shade structures around your home to stop the sun from reaching you in your own home. Such structures may include roller blinds, tinted windows or an outdoor awning.