The world owes much to the sun. It is now one of the primary sources of renewable energy. It helps plants grow so that they can supply food. But it also brings harmful rays that can result in skin cancer.
To understand more about this illness, here are four facts you may not know:
1. Harmful UV Rays Can Penetrate Glass
The sun releases three types of UV rays: A, B, and C. Of the three, only the first two reach the earth’s atmosphere. These are also the ones linked to sunburns and skin cancer.
Regular glass windows usually help block UVB, but they do poorly against UVA. That’s why homes and even businesses may need to use retractable window awnings to reduce exposure. It is especially necessary when people spend a lot of time near windows.
How about car glass windows? Vehicles usually use a special filter against UV rays. The problem is windows on the driver’s side can still allow UVA rays to pass through. It explains why many people with skin cancer develop one on their left side.
2. Clouds Do Not Offer Ample Cover
Overcast skies and clouds can give a false sense of security. They can make people believe they offer protection against UV rays. In reality, the sun’s rays can still reach the atmosphere regardless of the weather.
Worse, some objects, such as sand and snow, can amplify the effects of radiation. This is because they serve as reflectors for the sun’s rays. Ski resorts, in particular, may have more potent levels of solar radiation because of their high altitude.
People still need to use sunscreen even when they don’t see the sun. Wearing sunglasses that block UV rays can be helpful for those who go to the beach or mountain resorts.
Note: Sunlight isn’t all bad. The skin needs it to help produce vitamin D, which improves the absorption of calcium. The best time to expose oneself to the sun’s rays is in the morning. All one needs is 20 minutes.
3. Skin Cancer Can Begin in the Hair Follicles
Skin cancer, even the deadliest type called melanoma, can be curable when caught early. Unfortunately, in many cases, people discover the symptoms later. One of the reasons is the sneakiness of cancer.
In a 2019 study, researchers learned that skin cancer could begin not on the skin layer but in the hair follicles. It could also cause genetic changes in stem cells. These are immature cells that could later specialize or differentiate into different types, including skin cells.
4. Skin Cancer Affects People in Different Ways
Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the country. It affects 20% of the population. Most of these cases are non-melanoma, such as squamous and basal cell carcinoma.
Melanoma, which impacts the pigment-making cells called melanocytes, accounts for only 1% of the cases. However, it’s the deadliest of the three. Rarely, it occurs in the eyes.
Overall, skin cancer affects various demographics in different ways:
- The incidence rates of non-melanoma skin cancers are the highest among women. Men, meanwhile, are more prone to melanoma.
- The average age for people to develop skin cancer is 50 years old. New studies, though, show that it’s becoming increasingly common among individuals below 40. A study by Johns Hopkins revealed more young adults and teens developed it.
- Skin color can impact the risks of skin cancer. It is more common among Caucasians. However, it can be deadlier for people of color.
Skin cancer can be deadly, but it’s also preventable. Part of learning how to reduce the risk is further education, beginning with the facts on this list.