What Uv Index Is Good For Tanning – As the largest organ in the human body, our skin has a large surface area for the potential development of disease. Too much ultraviolet (UV) sunlight exposure may give you the best tan you’ve had all summer, but it can also significantly increase your risk of skin cancer.
There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma (which starts in the melanocyte cells that pigment our skin) and non-melanoma (skin cancer which starts in other types of skin cells). The most common types of nonmelanoma skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, both of which have lower mortality rates than melanoma (1).
What Uv Index Is Good For Tanning
The number of skin cancer diagnoses is increasing every year, with aggressive types of skin cancer such as malignant melanoma steadily climbing the leaderboard of the most common types of cancer worldwide. With an estimated 106,000 new cancer cases in 2021 (about 5.6% of all new cancer diagnoses this year), melanoma is currently the 19th most common form of cancer worldwide (2) (3). As these numbers have increased over the past 25 years, skin cancer has begun to seriously affect the health of our global population (2).
Uv Exposure From Sources Other Than The Sun
While individual genetics, time spent outdoors, cultural practices and access to sunscreen all play a role in a person’s risk of developing skin cancer, it turns out that your geographic location may increase your risk more than we previously thought.
Skin cancer is primarily caused by chronic exposure to ultraviolet rays – the heat energy emitted by our sun. UVA, UVB, and UVC rays, divided into three different categories based on their wavelength, can penetrate our skin to different depths (4). When the rays interact with our skin cells, they cause disruption and damage to the cells’ DNA. If this damage cannot be repaired by our body’s innate cell repair mechanisms, improper cell replication can occur, leading to skin cancer.
Being able to penetrate our skin at different levels, adequate sun protection requires protection against all three types of UV rays. While short wavelength UVC rays only affect the top layer of our skin, UVA rays can penetrate deep into every layer of the skin, causing cell destruction in the deeper layers of the dermis (5).
How much UV radiation you’re exposed to during the day can depend on your geographic location and each day’s weather forecast. To help protect people from potentially harmful levels of UV radiation, the UV Index was created to provide daily recommendations for sun protection (6):
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As the Earth constantly rotates in its orbit around the Sun, some countries are exposed to higher levels of UV radiation than others. Depending on a wide range of factors such as geographic location, cultural customs and the ethnicity of the residents, some countries have much higher rates of skin cancer than others. Top 20 countries for skin cancer diagnoses (and their average summer UV index) (7):
So, as we can see, the top 20 countries are spread across the globe. Some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have incredibly high average UV indices, while others, such as Norway and Denmark, still have very low UV index values.
Let’s examine how human genetics (and the effects of modern pollution) are contributing to the rise in skin cancer diagnoses worldwide.
Since the days of colonization, people have migrated around the world to build lives in new, exotic places. Many experts believe that the increased prevalence of skin cancer among today’s lighter-skinned Australians and Kiwis is partly due to their European ancestry. Migration patterns over the past few hundred years have created a landscape where the skin pigmentation of most people is not suitable for their environment.
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During human evolution, our early ancestors developed additional skin pigmentation, possibly to counteract the high levels of UV radiation they were exposed to. Due to migratory habits and evolutionary changes, those who ended up in more northern areas were more likely to have lighter skin. Thus, while those living in warmer equatorial climates such as Africa and Australia had more pigmented skin, European explorers who had been deprived of high UV exposure for centuries had lighter complexions, making them less suited to this warm life. climate (9)
So while it appears that people living in more northern latitudes may be protected from chronically high levels of UV exposure, this is not always the case. Places like Norway and Denmark, which can cause sunburn on unprotected skin in less than 45 minutes, with an average UV index of 5 or 6, can still be dangerous, especially for fair-skinned people.
Without more melanin in the skin, fair-skinned people are at increased risk of skin cell damage from UV radiation. Within the light-skinned group, those with light-colored eyes and light-colored or red hair have an increased risk of skin cancer due to their extremely light skin color.
Based on the skin chart created by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are six different skin types, each with different levels of exposure to UV damage (10). People with lighter skin types (I and II on the chart) have lower levels of natural melanin than darker skin tones (V and VI), which means they need to take extra care to avoid severe sun damage and skin damage.
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It is important to note that while people with darker skin tones have a lower risk of developing skin cancer, the risk is never zero. Melanin helps prevent UV damage, but it can also mask early signs of skin cancer, allowing people with this skin color to be diagnosed at a later and more severe stage of the disease. For this reason, it is recommended that everyone take appropriate measures to protect themselves from excessive sun exposure (10).
Regardless of the geographic location of where we live, cultural customs always play a large role in our sun protection practices and ideology.
Due to modern Western fashion and cultural habits, it is very common for people of all skin tones to wear clothing that exposes large areas of their skin to the sun. Because of this, the ten most common sites for skin cancer include the chest, arms, backs of the legs, and face (11).
While the idea of tanned skin is incredibly popular in Western European countries such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, other countries have different opinions about what is considered culturally attractive.
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In Asian countries such as Japan and China, pale and fair skin is the standard of beauty that many women and men strive to achieve. “Tanning is much less culturally acceptable. It’s also associated with lower socioeconomic status,” says Dr. Henry W. Lim, chairman of the department of dermatology at Henry Ford Health System (12). Because of the cultural value of light skin, any Asian country is more prone to skin cancer Not in the top twenty, despite their geographic location and average high UV index.
Not surprisingly, climate change has not had a positive impact on global skin cancer trends. As our pollution continues to deplete the ozone layer, more and more harmful UV rays enter our atmosphere and reach the Earth’s surface. It is estimated that a reduction of just 10% in ozone thickness would result in an additional 300,000 nonmelanoma and 4,500 melanoma skin cancers (10).
Due to the natural rotation of the Earth and the rotation of the Sun, countries near the equator will experience the greatest increase in ozone-depleting UV exposure. Factors such as the elliptical shape of the Earth’s orbit, low overall pollution levels, and low population density mean that Southern Hemisphere countries near the equator receive about 15% more UV radiation than Northern Hemisphere countries (13). As our ozone layer thins, the amount of UV radiation in these regions will only increase, harming the health of people living in these hot climates.
With the number of skin cancer cases around the world trending in the wrong direction, it is time to act before the number of skin cancer cases overwhelms our healthcare system.
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On an individual level, increased education about the importance of participating in sun-safe activities is the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Increasing your time in the shade, regularly checking your area’s UV index, and intentionally reducing the time you spend tanning are all great steps you can take to prevent sunburn and sun damage. Also, one