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The connection between UV rays and skin cancer

UV rays and skin cancer

The sun produces radiation – and radiation from ultra violet rays (UVA + UVB = UVRadiation) produces significant damage in our skin. UVA and UVB rays both damage skin, but in different ways. Short waves (UVB) penetrate only surface layers of the skin, where longer wavelengths (UVA) penetrate deeper into the skin’s layers, causing damage much lower in the dermis.

The effects of both UVA and UVB rays on our skin cause it to darken, but through different mechanisms. UVA rays cause immediate, yet gradual hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin’s pigment) through redistribution of the melanin in our skin, and these particular rays can be hard to avoid as they penetrate clouds, rain and windows. UVB rays cause delayed tanning through an increase in melanocyte (melanin producing cells) number and activity.

The problem we face is that UVA & UVB rays cause damage to our skin and can lead to skin cancer. 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by UVR (UVA + UVB) especially UVB, which, as stated above, damages more superficially in the top layers of our skin. These types of cancers are called squamous cell skin cancer and basal cell skin cancer. As well, 90% of accelerated aging in our skin is caused by UVR, especially UVA or deeper radiation (tanning beds) that give off UVA radiation. UVB acts by injuring the DNA in the upper layers of our skin, resulting in accumulation that causes cancer of these particles.

UVA rays have longer wavelengths that travel deeper in our skin and generate ROS (reactive oxygen species), which act to cause mutation of our skin’s DNA, potentially resulting in skin cancer. UVA & UVB both deplete the antioxidants in our skin that protect us from ROS. We have a gene in our skin called ‘P53’ that reacts to the DNA damage caused by the sun’s rays and induces the production of melanin, resulting in a tan. Therefore, tanning is a direct result of DNA damage, as is skin cancer. (In case you missed it, TANNING = SKIN CANCER!).

Accelerated photoaging is seen clinically as wrinkles, brown spots, dull skin, roughness, red veins, (telangiectasia) and is also associated with increased levels of skin cancer. Risk factors for accelerated aging and skin cancer include sunburns before the age of 20, frequent tanning, fair skin, and tanning bed use (UVA).

Photoaging also has a decrease in collagen seen clinically as sagging or thin skin. Pre-treatment of skin with Retin-A can block this effect.

We invite you to book a complimentary consultation with a skincare expert to discuss your personalized skin care treatment plan.

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