Sunlight and Skin Cancer

Categories: Skin Cancer

Many people love the sun. The sun’s rays make people feel better. In fact, mental health clinicians advise people living with depression to spend more time in the sun. Vitamin D, which comes from the sun, can be helpful in treating depression (Penckofer, Kouba, Byrn, & Estwing, 2010). Exposure to sunlight accounts for over 90% of the vitamin D requirement for most individuals (Penckofer, et al., 2010). Additionally, the universe needs the sun. Without the sun, photosynthesis would stop, the temperature would significantly drop, the oceans would freeze over.

Essentially, human life as we know it would come to a halt (The Journal, 2015). The sun is a wonderful, marvelous thing. However, the world’s love affair with the sun isn’t a two-way street: excessive sun exposure can cause significant problems for humanity. In fact, research has shown that excessive sun exposure can cause skin cancer (American Cancer Society, n.d.)

Everett (n.d.) maintains that research has shown that, although there are factors that can increase the chances of skin cancer, several cases were found to have been caused by increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (Everett, n.

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d.). Excessive exposure to UV radiation accounts for many health problems. These health problems include but are not limited to sunburns, cataracts and the weakening of the immune system. Skin cancer has become the most prevalent type of cancer in the United States (American Cancer Society, n.d.). According to the American Cancer Society (n.d.), up to 50% of Americans who live to the age of 65 are expected to develop skin cancer at least once.

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The cancer is caused by a direct effect on the DNA from the UV radiation (Everett, n.d.). The amount of UV exposure that individuals receive is dependent on several factors, such as the amount of time the person was exposed, the intensity of the radiation, and the degree of protective measures that the person has taken (Everett, n.d.). Also, it has recently been determined that sun damage is considered to be cumulative. This means if an individual is diagnosed with skin cancer, he or she may have received the excessive UV radiation exposures several years before the diagnosis (Everett, n.d.).

Most UV rays come from sunlight, but some can come from man-made products, i.e. tanning beds. The use of tanning beds was once thought to be a safer alternative to direct exposure to sunlight and because of this false belief, many believed they would not develop skin cancer by tanning bed use. However, although it has been discovered that tanning beds can indeed lead to the development of skin cancer, the use of tanning beds continue to be at an alarming rate. Over one-third of American adults, which includes over 50% of college students, admit to using tanning beds at least once in their lifetime. Additionally, 17% of teenagers have also admitted to using a tanning bed at least once (American Academy of Dermatology, 2018, par. 1). The indoor tanning industry earns about $5 billion in a year in revenue (AAD, 2018). However, recent research also suggests that the increased exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds can increase the chances of developing skin cancer exponentially (AAD, 2018, par. 2).

The most common form of cancer in the US is skin cancer, and the number of cases continues to rise (Everett, n.d.). That being said, it is also the most preventable. Choosing to reduce the occurrence of increased UV exposure is the most effective way to prevent the occurrence of skin cancer. The healthiest option to prevent too much exposure to UV light is to avoid the using tanning beds. However, because the largest source of UV radiation is sunlight, it is suggested that one takes specific precautionary measures to reduce excessive exposure to UV radiation before going outside, even on cloudy days. Research has shown that taking extra precautions to limit exposure to sunlight can be life-saving. Steps to limit this exposure includes wearing sunscreen and protective clothing (including hats), finding shade, and remembering to use sunglasses (Everett, n.d.). Sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and then every 2 to 3 hours thereafter. Sunglasses with total UV protection should be worn (Everett, n.d.).

In summary, skin is the body’s largest organ and plays an important role to the body. The skin protects the body from harmful things and assists in regulating body temperature. Protecting one’s skin is vital to assist in living the longest and best life possible. Recent advances in technology and knowledge has assisted in gaining better understanding of how UV radiation causes cancer. The efforts of research in skin cancer continues to help increase overall awareness of the harmful effects of UV exposure. This research has shown that prevention and protection is key to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer.

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Sunlight and Skin Cancer. (2021, Sep 21). Retrieved from

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