The Health Risks of Sun Exposure

Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can have serious, and even fatal, health consequences. Many people believe that you have only been overexposed if you get a sunburn, but that is incorrect. UVA rays do not cause sunburn, but they do cause premature aging, skin cancer, and vision loss. You can protect yourself by properly applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with UVA protection, wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, and applying UV blocking film to the windows in your home, office, and vehicle.

Health Hazards of UV Exposure

Overexposure to UV rays can cause numerous health problems including:

  • Melanoma skin cancer
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma)
  • Premature aging – thick, wrinkled, leathery skin
  • Actinic keratosis – skin growths that can turn into squamous cell carcinoma
  • Persistent redness due to damage to small blood vessels
  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Pterygium – tissue growth on the cornea that can block vision
  • Immune system suppression

Some Numbers on Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. One in five Americans develop skin cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) there are more new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year, in the U.S., than lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S. each year. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills nearly 9,000 Americans each year.

Pets are also at Risk

The dangers of UV exposure affect animals too. Pets with light skin or little or no hair are at the greatest risk of getting sunburn and developing skin cancers. Too much sun exposure can also damage your dog or cat’s vision and even caused blindness over time.

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