What does UV exposure do to your body?

UV exposure can be a significant health risk. It is important to understand how you are exposed to UV rays and the steps you can take to protect yourself in order to reduce the risks of developing a condition that is linked to the exposure, including cancer . Protect yourself and your loved ones with this information.

What are UV rays?
UV stands for ultraviolet and refers to a type of radiation that has less energy than the light that you can see but not quite as much as an X-ray. UV rays are created by the sun. There are three main types:

  • UVA rays – These rays are the weakest and may cause wrinkles and contribute to some forms of skin cancer.
  • UVB rays – The next step up in strength, these rays typically cause sunburns and contribute to skin cancer.
  • UVC – These rays have the most energy of any UV rays, but they do not reach the ground. They can be found in mercury lamps, welding torches, and UV sanitation systems.

How do UV rays affect the body?
UV exposure changes the DNA in your cells. Because UV rays can’t completely penetrate your body, they mostly affect the DNA in your skin. The impacts of UV exposure can range from minor to life-threatening and include:

  • Sunburns
  • Wrinkles
  • Basal cell skin cancer
  • Squamous cell skin cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Lip cancer
  • Eye cancer

How can I reduce my risk of exposure?
Limit the amount of time you spend outside during the hours of peak sunlight—typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.—and wear sunscreen when you’re outside. Sunglasses can help to protect your eyes.

Never use a tanning bed, which dramatically increases your risk of UV exposure. If you do welding or metal work, talk to your physician about steps you can take to protect yourself at work.

When UV exposure leads to cancer, Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center is here to help. Our cancer care team in Thousand Oaks uses advanced technologies, and we help to connect patients with resources to support them throughout their treatment plan. Get more information about our cancer care and our hospital services by calling (877) 888-5746.

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