Is sunshine good for you? We set the record straight and dispel the top five myths about sun exposure:
- Your skin gets a healthy glow from mild sun exposure
Actually, that glow is not so healthy! When UV rays reach your skin, they damage cells in the epidermis. In response, your immune system increases blood flow to the affected areas. The increased blood flow is what gives sunburn its characteristic redness and warmth to touch.
- You should always tan in a safe way
There is no such thing as a “safe tan” caused by sun exposure. The increase in skin pigment, called melanin, which causes the tan colour change in your skin, is a sign of skin damage.
- Tanning makes you look better
Frequent sunburns or hours spent tanning can result in a permanent darkening of the skin, dark spots and a leathery texture. Tanning may give you short-term benefits in appearance, but it leads to premature ageing of the skin
- Your personal risk of getting skin cancer is relatively low
You may think it won’t happen to you, but be aware that more than 1 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States; most of these are considered caused by the sun.
- Staying in the sun gives your body a health boost
Overexposure to UV radiation may suppress proper functioning of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defences. This can lead to increased sensitivity to sunlight, decreased effects of immunizations and increased reactions to certain medications. This weakening of the immune system can also cause reactivation of the herpes virus and recurrent cold sores.