The sun provides light and life sustaining support that we could not live without. Besides providing the means for plant, animal, and human life to exist on earth, the sun also provides many benefits to human health. There are some dangers, namely sunburn and skin cancers that are thought to be caused by over exposure to the sun, but the risks of these have been overly exaggerated by manufacturers of sun protection products and the media.
It is not the sun itself but rather the light rays produced by the sun that can cause the skin to burn and that are thought to be responsible in part at least, for an increased risk for the development of nonmalignant and malignant skin cancers. Experts agree that there are other environmental factors such as an increasingly thinning ozone layer which is a natural defensive shield against harmful light rays. Pollution and other factors may also play a part in causing skin cancers, however experts have not quite figured out how or to what degree they may yet.
The light rays from the sun are technically defined as ultraviolet light with various wavelengths. These are more commonly known to us as UVA and UVB rays. UVC is another ultraviolet wavelength from the sun, but it has received much less attention and so you may never have heard of it before. The upper level of the atmosphere of the earth is where the ozone layer is found. This is a natural defensive shield that protects us from the full intensity of the nine thousand, nine hundred and forty degree Fahrenheit surface temperature of the sun, while allowing light to pass through.
The light rays produced by the sun have significantly lower temperatures than the suns core when they finally reach the earth. The ozone layer also offers protection against harmful UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. It does not offer as much protection as it used to because the pollution we produce has caused a thinning of the ozone layer, reducing some of its protective abilities. Less ozone protection does raise the risk of sunburns and skin cancer with over exposure to the sun’s rays.
Offering people products they can use to protect themselves from the more harmful affects of the sun is why sunburn protection products were developed, or at least this is what the makers of those products state is the purpose behind their development. Whether they are truly concerned about helping people protect their skin and health is debated in many leading health and consumer awareness circle, especially since so many products, each with different warnings about the dangers of the sun and the proper amount of protection needed exists.
A marketplace flooded with so many different sun protection products bearing differing and easily misunderstood and in some cases misleading information has resulted in the public becoming overly fearful of any exposure to the sun. After all should you go with an SPF of 15, 30, or 50? 15? 30? 50? For now a product containing SPF 15 is considered by many health experts to offer the protection needed. People with fairer skin tones and those who spend more time outdoors may want to use a product with a higher SPF.
We will not even get into the new products now available that suggest only products offering both UVA and UVB protecting properties at different strengths offer the best protection. We leave this alone for now because the experts have not themselves finished hashing this out and separating fact from fiction, for profit yet. When credible evidence and information becomes available, we will most certainly pass that on to you. We want our readers to be informed readers.
The sun has many benefits to us as humans that you do not hear so much about outside of school science classes. The sun provides for the process of photosynthesis which subsidizes nearly all life on earth. The sun also provides energy to the earth. Our climate and weather are also guided by the powerful energy produced by the sun and the sun helps clean our air and water.
The sun promotes the production of vitamin D in the body which is important for developing and maintaining strong bones and health. Sunlight and the warmth of the sun interact with chemicals in the brain to elevate mood stabilizers, improving our sense of well being. Despite all of the claims made against the sun as a skin damager and cancer causing agent, the sun dries out dead skin cells so that they slough off more easily to make room for new skin cells to grow. This effectively keeps our skin cleaner for better skin health.
The bottom line here is that the sun is not the insidious monster that it has been depicted to be by many of the makers of sun protection products and many media outlets. The risks posed by the sun have been overly exaggerated in order to spawn greater consumer sales of sun protecting products. The health benefits of the sun have been overshadowed by all of this. The sun is not to be feared, we need it and it helps promote better health. Do protect yourself from the harmful affects of the sun’s rays by wearing a trusted brand of sun protection, but do not avoid the sun altogether and deprive yourself of its many benefits.