Most of us know we are supposed to use sun protection when we are outdoors, but how much do you know about what we call “UV health”? That is, other issues related to your wellness that are impacted by UV exposure over time. We think it is important to take a holistic view of wellness and not always just focus on cancer, as there is much connectivity to other issues and cancer awareness and prevention.
In general, UV exposure is first associated with the skin and cancer, but other things like premature aging and liver spots can affect the skin. More freckles in your forties than in your childhood? That is a function of sun exposure. Aside from the skin, though, there are impacts on other parts of the body.
Your eyes need extra protection also. This is a year-round concern in places like our home base here in Colorado, where we live at altitude and with a lot of sunshine and we enjoy outdoor activities year round. Good sunglasses are a necessary investment. UV exposure can create problems such as inflamed or burned corneas, cataracts and even something less-known called pterygium, which is, according to cancer.org, a “tissue growth on the surface of the eye.” Sounds unpleasant, don’t you think?
When you are slathering on lotions and medical creams or you are consuming them, double check about whether they increase your photosensitivity. We have been burned a few times as a direct result of taking something which would require reduced sun exposure to avoid a more intense sunburn. Some alpha hydroxides have been associated with this as well and those are often applied on the face and near the eyes, which is some of your most sensitive skin in need of protection.
Vitamin D is good and it is associated with the sun, but the jury is still out as to how much is good. We know it does lower the risk of some cancers, but as to how it impacts each of us individually, there are several variables including your age, skin tone and how strong the sun is. The good news, of course, is that you can regulate your vitamin D intake through diet and supplements as needed. That is a better way, doctors say, to guarantee healthy vitamin D levels than through the sun on its own.
Whatever you do, though, it is important during the summer months to get out and have fun. Enjoy the outdoors and sun carefully and with adequate protection to ensure you best chances of good health over the long term so you can enjoy as many summers as possible!