The sun, the closest star to the Earth, has been the subject of poems, dreams and even studies. Its light allows the day to exist and to warm us, stimulating the development of life. However, not all is good news regarding this star since then the effects of solar radiation on health are not always positive.
The energy emitted by the sun is distributed in the form of radiation, but not all of the energy it produces reaches the Earth, since a large part of it is absorbed by the atmosphere. However, what reaches the surface is the cause of various conditions ranging from heat stroke to skin cancer.
How is the solar radiation?
The radiation produced by the sun is of various types. However, there are two that are the most accidents. First, there is infrared radiation, which is of low energy intensity and has little power to penetrate through the skin.
For the above, this type is usually not responsible for skin problems. Furthermore, it produces the sensation of heat and stimulates blood circulation, as well as promoting thermoregulation and causing sweating.
On the other side is radiation ultraviolet (UV), with less arrival on Earth, but with great ability to penetrate the inner layers of the skin. Depending on the type of UV radiation involved, it can simply produce a more or less intense tan or cause injury.
The sun and human health
Although sun exposure promotes processes such as vitamin D synthesis, excess can negatively affect human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned about the negative effects of solar radiation.
WHO has indicated that some of the adverse effects are as follows:
- Increased likelihood of developing skin cancer.
- Sunburn of different degrees.
- Premature ageing and accelerated: The sun’s rays can favor the formation of free radicals and cause irreversible damage to the molecules and cellular structures of the body.
- eye diseases of various types, including cataracts.
Other potential damage caused by solar radiation has to do with the ineffectiveness of the immune system:
- Impaired functions of antigen presenting cells: It is a group of immune system cells that influence the proper response of the immune system.
- Increased formation of cytokines: cytokines stimulate or decrease the response of the immune system. These are mediators that reduce or multiply the defense effect, depending on the needs of the environment and the infections from external agents.
- Changes in lymphocyte recirculation: Changes in this process can also affect the immune response, as they change the pathways and ways these white blood cells are distributed in the tissues.
- T lymphocyte activation: these defense cells protect the body from infection and help fight cancer. Self activate wrongly, cause inappropriate responses that could lead to pathologies.
Effects of solar radiation on skin health
One of the most notable health effects of solar radiation is skin cancer.. The different oncological skin diseases have increased in the last 50 years, which seems to be related to holes in the ozone layer, which has the function of filtering the sun’s rays.
He photoaging (premature aging of the skin) is another of the damages that the sun, taken in excess, can cause on the dermis. This effect of solar radiation on health It manifests itself through skin elastosis in the areas most exposed to the sun (face, neck, décolleté), as well as thickening, dryness and deep wrinkles.
Photo-aged skin will show spots and hyperpigmented areas, as it has undergone an alteration of the melanocytes. You will also have very large pores and the appearance of thick, rough skin, which is due to a phenomenon known as hyperkeratinization.
Prevention of the effects of solar radiation
Not all people run the same risks in front of the sun. Depending on the skin type, the predisposition to suffer damage will be greater or lesser. That is why it is important to keep in mind the phototype of each person, as white skins, for example, are more sensitive to radiation than dark skins.
How can the health effects of radiation be prevented? In principle, it must be taken into account that the damages are cumulative. This means we have a capital of the sun from birth and this should not be exceeded throughout life. In case of exposure, protective products suitable for each skin type must be applied.
Children under three should not be in the sun for long periods. The recommended time slot must be taken into consideration, as well as the geographical location and the time of year. The sun’s rays reach the Earth with different intensity, depending on the altitude and the season.
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