sun exposure | Teen Ink

sun exposure

February 2, 2009
By emmyphan27 BRONZE, Rome, New York
emmyphan27 BRONZE, Rome, New York
4 articles 23 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
ERIK: Are you very tired?
CHRISTINE: Oh, tonight I gave you my soul, and I am dead.
ERIK: Your soul is a beautiful thing, child. No emperor ever received so fair a gift. The angels wept to-night.

Despite what you might think, the threat of sun exposure is increasingly dangerous, especially in today's world. With the rise in tans being classified as fashionable, more people are spending time soaking up the sun's rays than ever ' and dealing with the consequences. Whether it is by natural or artificial means, no tan is truly healthy. In fact, you're doing more harm to you skin and body than you might realize ' until it's too late.

While getting a 'healthy tan' in the summer is considered fashionable, there truly is no such thing. People tan when the melanin (a pigment found in cells of the interior layer of the epidermis) in their skin darkens to protect it from the sun's rays. When your skin makes a tan, it's actually a sign that an injury has occurred. That injury means your skin has become damaged, which can cause many diseases and cancers (some of them fatal, if not detected in time).

Basal cell carcinoma, for example, is one such cancer, as is squamous cell cancer, and melanoma. The first two mentioned typically do not spread or become fatal, but melanoma is much more lethal, killing one in four people who have it. All can be caused by either ultraviolet radiation or family history. Sunburns, long-term exposure, and heredity, especially in the case of melanoma, help to cause and further along the damage. Tanning parlors also contribute, the use of such facilities increasing your chances of tumors or cancer, including melanoma. This cancer is less common than the other two, but it kills more young women than any non-skin cancer, including breast and colon cancer.

Protecting yourself from the threat of sun exposure and its consequences is fairly simple. When spending time outside, check the UV (ultraviolet) Index to see if protection (and how much of it) is needed. Ultraviolet rays can cause eye cataracts, sunburns, skin cancers, and skin aging; the higher the UV Index number, the stronger the sun's rays. The higher the sun's rays, the greater the need to take precautions. The UV Index ranges from zero to more than eleven, the lowest number advising only sunglasses and sunscreen, the highest requiring avoidance of the sun. And in the tropics and southern United States, the UV Index can even reach numbers fourteen or higher. Snow and white sand can nearly double UV strength, reflecting radiation and increasing exposure, even more so between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Avoid being outside during this time period, as the sun's rays are strongest, and can cause the most damage to the skin and body.

If you absolutely must have a tan, consider using self-tanners, a safe alternative for people who want a golden glow that doesn't depend on radiation. But even though self-tanners darken the skin's surface cells, most do not provide any protection from the sun's rays, so sunscreen is still needed. In fact, sunscreen should be used whenever you go outside for a fairly decent amount of time, especially as the UV Index rises. Wearing a hat, protective clothing, and sunglasses also help to protect you from the threat of sun exposure.

In today's society, a 'healthy' tan is considered fashionable. But there is no such thing as a 'healthy' tan, and the darkening of skin actually means that your skin is being damaged. Whether they are by natural or artificial means, tans injure your skin, causing tumors or cancers, which could eventually become fatal. The threat of sun exposure is increasingly dangerous, especially as the ozone layer depletes, and yet can be prevented by simply limiting time spent in the sun and avoiding going to tanning parlors. Other ways to protect yourself include covering up your skin with sunscreen or protective clothing when spending a long period of time outside, or when the UV Index is high. By preventing possible skin damages today, you'll be protecting yourself from the consequences tomorrow.

The author's comments:
This was a task (project) for my English class, and even though I put it off until pretty much the last minute, it still turned out well.

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