When people sit outside sun bathing the sun’s rays are hitting your body. These rays contain two types of ultra-violet radiation. They are UVA and UVB.
These types of UV have different effects on your skin. UVA radiation gives you a tan whereas UVB radiation burns the upper layers of skin, causing sunburn.
Melanin is the brown pigment in your skin that makes you tan. The UVA pass through the lower layers of your skin and they make cells called melanocytes to produce melanin.
Melanin also provides protection from UV radiation. People whose ancestors lived in sunnier areas of the world are more likely to have protective brown skin.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
Ultraviolet light is a form of radiation that is not visible to the human eye. It’s has shorter wavelengths then visible light. The ultraviolet part of the spectrum is divided into three sections. These sections are the near ultraviolet, the far ultraviolet, and the extreme ultraviolet. The sections are divided by how energetic the ultraviolet radiation is.
Some materials will absorb the energy from ultraviolet waves and emit the energy as visible light. These materials are called fluorescent and are used for fluorescent lighting (sometimes called strip lighting) and security marking.
The sun emits UV light which causes the skin to tan. Sun beds use fluorescent lighting to emit ultraviolet light to create an artificial tan.
Sunbathing- Effects on the body
Sunbathing has many different effects on the body both positive and negative.
The healing power of the sun was acknowledged by ancient civilisations long before we had identified UV rays.
Ultraviolet light converts cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for the creation of calcium which strengthens bones in the body. If we expose six square inches of our skin to direct sunlight for one hour per day, we will obtain our minimum daily requirement for vitamin D.
Sunlight helps to regulate almost all our body processes. Firstly sunbathing helps the mind. It has been shown to increase our sense of well-being and to improve sleep.
Sunlight can have positive effects on the thyroid and can balance hormone levels. Resting heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rates are all decreased after a sunbath.
Sunlight stimulates the production of more red blood cells which increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood, therefore increasing muscular stamina.
Disadvantages of Sunbathing
The Association of Dermatologists estimates that there are at least 65,000 new cases of skin cancer each year in the UK. Most of these are caused by exposure to ultra violet radiation.
When UV radiation penetrates skin, it causes changes in the cells that can lead to sunburn, premature ageing, DNA damage and skin cancer.
There are two types of UV radiation: UVA ages the skin ageing while UVB causes sunburn. Both are thought to be major risk factors for skin cancer.
Experts at Cancer Research UK fear that rates of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are likely to treble over the next 30 years.
Fair Skin and Dark Skin
Fair skin is good at making vitamin D but it gives less protection againest UV radiation. People with darker skin have more difficulty making vitamin D for the body but they have much greater protection against UV radiation.
Research suggesting that Sunbathing is Not Always Dangerous
Research from Wake Forest University in North Carolina states that exposure to UVB rays is needed for the synthesis of vitamin D which is crucial for building and maintaining strong bones. In addition, research has suggested that higher levels of vitamin D might help to protect the body from colon, breast, prostate and other cancers. However they accept that sunbathing needs to be done in moderation.
Research showing that Sunbathing is Dangerous – Skin Cancer
Too much exposure to the sun is dangerous. Skin cancer is caused by overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Despite the dangers people regard getting a sun tan as making themselves more attractive. However the reality is that a suntan isn’t healthy, it’s actually a sign of skin damage. Research suggests that over a lifetime, the risk of developing one type of skin cancer called malignant melanoma is 1 in 147 (for males) and 1 in 117 (for females).
There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma (or malignant melanoma) and non-melanoma. Melanoma skin cancer is usually pigmented or coloured and is more dangerous. The main cause is exposure to short periods of intense sunlight and it can develop anywhere on the body.
It may appear as a quick-growing, irregular, dark-coloured spot on previously normal skin or in an existing mole that changes shape, size, colour, develops irregular edges, bleeds, itches, crusts or reddens.
Skin cancer is becoming more widespread: the number of cases has doubled in the past 20 years. Each year in the UK, there are more than 65,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and more than 8,000 new cases of malignant melanoma. Non-melanoma is nearly always curable if identified and treated early enough. However about 1,800 people still die from malignant melanoma skin cancer annually.
From what my research has taught me, everybody needs to get some exposure to the sun. However excessive exposure such as sun bathing is bad because you are damaging your skin and you increase the risk of getting cancer.
The positive effects of sunbathing maybe relaxing and nice at the time however they are only short term.
As a person with fair skin I always have to worry about the effects of being in the sun. I have to protect myself by using appropriate sun creams, wearing the right clothes and limiting my time in the sun.
In summary I believe that sun bathing in moderation has positive benefits for your mind and body but it is important to know your limits. Excessive exposure to the sun can ultimately kill you if you are not careful.