How UV Rays Can Harm the Skin

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The skin is considered to be the first line of defense of the body against any microorganism which has plans of going inside the human body. It serves as a barrier not only to microorganisms, but as well to other things that exists in the environment such as temperature, chemicals, and the heat of the sun. Going out and having the skin exposed under the glaring heat of the sun can cause series of reactions which in turn makes the skin tanned or burned to an extent. People should be wary about their skin because it can actually react faster than ever thought to the Ultraviolet rays from the sun, according to a study.

Ultraviolet rays are invisible rays released as a part of the energy coming from the sun. UV rays are useful in the ecosystem, and even in the human body. It helps the body by converting chemicals present in our skin into Vitamin D. However, when taken in excess it can burn the skin. Good thing, the skin has some protective factor which protects the body from the harmful effects of UV rays. It has an ultraviolet receptor which immediately responds upon the exposure to ultraviolet rays.

The new study was published online in the journal Current Biology. It tackled about the faster reaction of the skin toward the effect of UV rays. According to the researchers who forerun the study, the findings of their research may be useful in the future to make way for the development of new trends of sunscreen which can better protect the skin against the UV rays.

Furthermore, the researchers found out that a specific pigment-producing cell in the skin called melanocytes immediately reacts upon exposure to UV rays. These melanocytes produce melanin which causes the pigment color in the skin after long exposure to sun rays. This mechanism of producing melanin in reaction to UV rays depends on a light sensitive protein called rhodopsin which is also found in the retina of the eye.

According to Elena Oancea, a researcher involved in the study, she said in conclusion: “We hypothesize that the early melanin production triggered by rhodopsin activation provides a first line of defense against ultraviolet light-induced damage.” She further added: “If this is the case, then this pathway and its protective capacity should be taken into consideration in the design and use of broad-spectrum sunscreens.”

As per the CDC statistics, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The following statistics refer to melanomas of the skin. Non-epithelial skin cancers, which are not reflected below, represent 7% of skin cancers that are tracked by central cancer registries. These statistics also do not include data for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which are not tracked by central cancer registries. In 2007 (the most recent year numbers are available)—

  • 58,094 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, including 33,041 men and 25,053 women.
  • 8,461 people in the United States died from melanomas of the skin, including 5,506 men and 2,955 women.



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