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Sun Damage: The Main Culprit To Skin Problems
The vast majority of our skin problems, including so-called laugh lines, crow feet’s, and wrinkles, are due to what dermatologists call “photo aging,” or damage caused by exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun. Compare the condition of the skin of on your face to the condition of the skin on any other part of your body that is usually by clothing. The difference is striking. The skin that has rarely seen the light of day will look decades younger. UV light is the reason. Damage from UV light is cumulative and can take years before it is apparent. Generally, by the time we reach our mid-thirties the long–term effects of UV exposure start to become visible in the form of the fine lines, wrinkles, and telltale changes in skin tone and color. No one is immune.
Do not assume just because you are not a regular sun bather or you do not spend a lot of time at the pool or on the tennis court that you are safe. Most of us get a heavy dose of UV rays when we are going about our daily business, even when we are going to and from work or the grocery store. Over a lifetime this kind of brief but chronic exposure leaves its mark.
There are two types of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. Both types stimulate the formation of free radicals on the skin. These free radicals are the very same highly reactive oxygen molecules that promote aging inside the body and are causative factors in such diseases as diabetes commonly associated with aging. By the way, if you smoke cigarettes, you are essentially inhaling thousands of free radicals with each puff. By age forty smokers tend to have wrinkles comparable to people ten years older.
UVBs rays, commonly referred to as the burning rays, inflict immediate damage on the epidermis. Even brief exposure to UVB rays can turn sensitive skin red and cause pain and inflammation. UVB rays are particularly nasty because, in addition to promoting the formation of free radicals, they give off intense heat that actually “cooks” the DNA in the nuclei of skin cells. This causes genetic changes that can lead to serious problems, including skin cancer. Al the antioxidants in the world can’t protect you against the wrath of UVB rays.
UVAs rays do not usually cause perceptible reddening of the epidermis. Rather, UVA rays inflict their damage by injuring the cells of the dermis and the subcutaneous layer of fat that are underneath the outer layer. This causes the kind of hidden damage that shows up years later as lines and wrinkles, and sometimes even as skin cancer.
The full effect of UV exposure is not immediately apparent. Our bodies’ own antioxidant defense network deactivates some free radicals before they can inflict harm. But as you know, our antioxidant levels decline as we age. Every time you expose your fact to the sun, your skin is being robbed of the antioxidants that protect it and keep it healthy and young looking.
Cosmetic changes to the skin are the most innocuous effects of UV exposure. Skin cancer can be deadly. One million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in Unites States. That number is expected to grow, especially as baby boomers age. Baby boomers grew up in an era when leisure time was abundant, sunbathing was fashionable, and a suntan was considered a sign of good health. Remember those advertisements for suntan lotions which boasted that the products filtered out the bad burning rays but allowed in the good tanning rays? Today we know that there is not a sign of health but is instead a sign that skin has been injured.
UV damage does not stop at the skin’s surface, its effects are felt well beneath it. In fact, exposure to UV radiation can severely weaken the immune system’s ability to fend off viruses and bacteria and to halt the growth of malignant tumors. This proves once again how neglecting one organ system can have a profound impact on another and how by fortifying one system you also exert a positive effect on the other.
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