I've been telling you about Eucerin's latest products and how much they rock. They have helped get my skin healthy for the summer. As a part of their campaign to help consumers put their skin health first they have recently added some very informative articles on their website. These articles specifically detail the risks and benefits of sun exposure. Here is the two part article courtesy of the Eucerin Website.
"The positive and negative effects of sun on our skin are dependent on a variety of factors. Learn how the sun can cause serious impact, but also offers vital benefits to our overall health.
From a health standpoint, our relationship with the sun is a conflicted one. Sunlight is a source of vital benefits and also of serious effects. Understanding sun’s damaging effects on our skin, and also why we need sunlight to stay healthy are the first steps to developing awareness about the sun’s powerful health effects over time.
To start, it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of damaging ultraviolet light:
UVA rays exist year-round, and like an X-ray, they can pass through clouds, clothing, windshields and even office windows. UVA rays penetrate into the deeper, second layer of the skin (the dermis), and are the primary cause of chronic sun-induced skin damage and premature aging of skin.
UVB rays are stronger in the summer months and penetrate the topmost (epidermis) skin layers. These rays are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer. The SPF (sun protection factor) rating on sunscreen only measures UVB protection and not all sunscreens provide UVA protection, so check the products you purchase carefully for full-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sun protection.
The Risks of Sun ExposureLong-term overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is damaging to your skin’s health—this can include both tanning and incidental daily exposure. UV radiation stimulates the production of melanin, which is the skin’s reaction to shield deeper levels of skin from further damage. Both a suntan and sunburn are demonstrations of sun damage to the skin.
Sun exposure also has a weathering effect on our skin and long-term, unprotected exposure to UVA rays will make our skin look older. In fact, over 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by sun exposure. UVA rays damage skin’s collagen and connective tissue, resulting in loss of firmness, sags and wrinkles.
Moreover, UVA and UVB rays play a role in skin cancer development, which occurs most often on sun-exposed skin and is the most common type of cancer in the United States.
As discussed in part 1, long-term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays causes cellular damage to our skin, which can affect our overall health. Yet scientific studies demonstrate that sunlight can also provide major benefits to our mental and physical health.
The Benefits of Sun ExposureSunlight helps the body produce most of the vitamin D required for healthy bone, blood and muscle function. Vitamin D is a hormone that helps the body maintain healthy nutrient absorption from food, while aiding in bone development, immunity and blood cell formation. Without regular sun exposure, the body requires vitamin D from foods and supplements. The consequences of vitamin D deficiency can be serious, and include high blood pressure, breast cancer and type-1 diabetes.
You’re probably aware of this intuitively, but getting sun is also a mood enhancer. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a psychological condition that tends to affect people during the darker fall and winter months, and appears more commonly in people who live farther from the equator. Severe cases of SAD can be successfully treated with light therapy, and exposure to sunlight (even through clouds) can help avoid or reverse the effects of SAD. Reduced sunlight also affects the body’s internal clock, which disrupts sleeping patterns and can lead to loss of energy or symptoms of depression.
Sensible SunWhile sunlight has important health benefits, it’s also clearly unadvisable to overexpose our skin to the sun—and our vulnerability to the sun only increases as we age. Finding the right balance will vary from person to person, but the best approach is to sensibly manage our sun exposure on a daily basis. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, particularly during the peak sunlight hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. will help protect skin from the damaging effects of UV rays. But avoiding the sun altogether is not recommended, as lack of sunlight can also cause serious impact on our health."