The sun has both positive and negative health effects on us. The sun can for example provide a healthy dose of Vitamin D or the “sunshine vitamin” that helps us absorb and metabolise calcium and phosphorous. On the other hand, it can pose a threat to our skin and health, causing skin cancer, skin aging, immune suppression and cataracts.
While everyone is at risk, people with lighter pigmented skin are at a higher risk of skin damage from the sun, and should take precautionary steps to alleviate the risks associated with overexposure to the sun. According to Carte Blanche, South Africa has risen to the top position as the country with the highest cases of melanomas, which officially moves the country ahead of previous leader Australia.
While we enjoy subtropical weather with long summer days in the sun, the high rate of the melanoma skin cancer is enough to cause alarm and more reason to be weary of not adequately protecting your skin. It can take up to only three sunburns in a lifetime to develop the cancer and other skin damage, and this often happens before the age of 18.
The following are adverse health effects you could develop from overexposure to the sun –
1 Non-melanoma Skin Cancers
Nonmelanoma skin cancers come in two variations, namely; basal cell carcinomas that appears in the form of small fleshy bump tumours, and Squamous cell carcinomas which are tumours that appear as small red scaly patches.
2 Actinic Keratoses
These usually appear in areas of the body that are highly exposed to the sun such as the face, hands arms and neck. These appear as red growths in appearance and are scaly to the touch and should you spot one, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
3 Premature Skin Aging
With the process of tanning to get that look of youthful skin, you’re actually damaging it to the extent of premature aging, leading to thick, wrinkly and leathery skin.
Cataracts occur in the eyes from UV radiation, and results in cloudy vision, and even the loss of eyesight if not treated.
5 Immune Suppression
Overexposure to the sun and tanning beds can cause long lasting damage to your skin and overall health. Research has shown that a sunburn can damage your white blood cells – your army of defence against germs and bacteria. The damage may persist for up to 24 hours after being burnt.