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Sun Rays Can Lead to DNA Damage

After a winter of lockdown and with coronavirus restrictions easing, many people will be hoping for good weather this summer and people must not underestimate the Sun Rays. Restrictions on foreign travel have meant that more people plan to stay within their country for their summer holidays than ever before. There is a shift in social life with the increasing interest in hanging outdoors.

Skin damage caused by Sun Rays is associated with both skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin. The rays produce ultraviolet radiation which is invisible to human eyes, although it can be seen by many animals, including reindeer, UV sits just beyond the purple end of the visible light spectrum.

Sun Rays are harmful because their energy can be absorbed by our cells’ DNA, causing them to become damaged. If the cell is unable to repair this DNA damage, this can lead to genetic changes, or mutations, which in turn can cause cancer. They are located on the surface of the body, skin cells are the main target for UV damage. The body does have some protection against these harmful effects. Molecular mechanisms within our cells can detect and repair the DNA damage before it can cause mutation.

A tan is a sign that your skin has been damaged. The protection it provides has been estimated to be equivalent to an SPF of around 4. This means that although it will take four times longer in the sun to do so, you can still burn. When skin cells detect DNA damage, they activate alarm signals that get passed on to pigment-producing cells to tell them to start producing more pigment to help protect against further damage. It’s the production of this pigment, melanin, that causes a suntan.

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