The Downside of Tanning
UVA rays make you tan, but they can also cause serious damage. This is because UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays.
UVA rays make you tan, but they can also cause serious damage. This is because UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays. UVA rays can pass through the protective layer, the epidermis, and reach the dermis, where the blood vessels and nerves are located. Because of this, UVA rays can damage a person's immune system, making it difficult for them to fight disease and causing diseases like melanoma, the most severe (and deadly) type of skin cancer.
Melanoma can cause death. If left undiagnosed and treated, it can spread from the skin of the body to other organs.
Skin cancer is epidemic in the United States, with more than one million new cases diagnosed annually. Although the number of new cases of other types of skin cancer is decreasing or equalizing, the number of new cases of melanoma is growing. In the past, melanoma mostly affected people in their fifties or older, but today dermatologists have patients in their twenties and even older teens with this type of cancer. Experts believe this is due in part to an increase in the use of tanning beds or sunlamps, which are high in UVA rays.
Doctors also believe that UVB rays play a role in the development of melanoma. This is because a sunburn or intense sun exposure can increase a person's chances of developing this deadly cancer.
Exposure to UVB rays also increases the chance of developing two other types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell skin cancer.
The main treatment for skin cancer is excision - removing tumors. Because many squamous cell cancers are found on the face and neck, surgery to remove them can cause scarring. Scars caused after melanomas are removed can occur anywhere on the body and are usually large.
Cancer is not the only problem associated with UV exposure. The damage caused to the dermis by exposure to UVA rays is the main factor in premature aging of the skin. To get an idea of how the sun's rays affect the skin, take a look at your parents' skin and compare it to yours. Much of the difference will be due to sun exposure and not age! UV rays can also cause an eye problem that we associate with older people: cataracts.
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