SHEDDING LIGHT ON UV RAYS & RADIATION
Welcome everyone to #FACTUAL FRIDAY. It’s May — spring is in full swing — and it also is SKIN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. So, we’re going to spend the month reviewing all the basic information we need to protect ourselves from what has become the most common cancer in the world.
Indeed, skin cancer is one of three cancers with which I have been diagnosed. And even though I’ve been “skin cancer-free” for a number of years now, I always have to remain vigilant and informed. And over the next few weeks, I’m going to share that information with you.
To begin, there are three different types of skin cancer. The most common are basel and squamous cell skin cancers. These are the less dangerous types and are highly treatable. They can, however, be disfiguring and costly to treat.
The third type, melanoma, is a different story. This is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and is responsible for the most deaths. In fact, on average one American dies from melanoma every hour – and the rates of this cancer have doubled in the United States since 1982.
Moreover, before the age of 50, melanoma occurs more in women than men. By the age of 65, however, the rates are twice as high in men. And, by the age of 80, men are three times more likely to develop melanoma than women.
But, no matter which skin cancer we’re discussing, each is caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light – also known as UV rays – is an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. It penetrates skin cells, changes skin texture, causes premature aging and wrinkling, damages the tissue and compromises the integrity of our DNA.
Now, for a little history. This harmful relationship between the sun and human skin appears to have been documented first in the late 1800s when sailors exposed to the sun developed a skin condition called “Seemannshaut” or “sailor’s skin.” And, this relationship between the sun and human skin was first documented in 1894 by German researcher P.G. Unna. The theory that it was the ultraviolet B light of the sun that produced a carcinogenic effect in human skin, however, was not forged until much later in the 1930s.
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to skin cancer 😊 – so this week we’re just going to discuss a few fundamentals of the disease. And, that begins by reviewing the 3 TYPES OF UV RAYS:
- ULTRAVIOLET A (UVA). This is the most common type of UV ray with more UVA rays reaching the earth’s surface than any other type. These rays reach deep into human skin and damage the skin’s connective tissue as well as its DNA.
- ULTRAVIOLET B (UVB). Most UVB rays are absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer, so they are less common and troublesome that UVA rays. They do not reach as deep into the skin as UVA rays, but they still can cause sunburn and damage our DNA.
- ULTRAVIOLET C (UVC). These rays can be extremely dangerous to living tissue. Fortunately, however, they are absorbed completely by the earth’s ozone layer and as a result, pose no threat to human skin in normal everyday situations.
So, here we have the 3 types of UV rays. And, while one of them is not an every-day threat, here’s what you need to know about the other two:
- BOTH UVA and UVB rays occur outdoors AND indoors.
- BOTH can penetrate glass.
- BOTH can reach you on cloudy, hazy days as well as bright, sunny days.
- And, BOTH reflect off water, snow, sand and even cement.
And, there we have the BASICS OF ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT and UVA and UVB rays – the cornerstones of skin cancer development.
Next week we’ll continue with the RISKS associated with skin cancer so you can learn how to assess your own PERSONAL RISK and that of your loved ones.
Remember, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. And to be FORE-WARNED is to be FORE-ARMED!
Thanks for joining me everyone for this important conversation and I look forward to seeing you here again next week!
Until then, stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .