Whether you’re on holiday abroad or enjoying the sunshine in the UK, catching some rays can be both relaxing and invigorating. It can be healthy too, with sunlight being the major source of phosphate and calcium in the body, two nutrients vital to bone and teeth health.

However, exposure to sunlight is not without its dangers. Whilst you may think that prolonged exposure is doing you no harm at all, if you sit back and soak up the sun for too long, then you’re putting yourself at risk of a host of dangerous conditions and outcomes. These include:

Premature skin ageing

Overexposure to the sun can cause the skin to look far older than it actually is. Over time, it can make the skin become thick, leathery and wrinkled. Because this damage is done over time, it’s often put down as a normal part of ageing. However, up to 90% of all changes to the skin that are visible can be put down to the effects of the sun.

Eye damage

Overexposure to the sun and in particular UV radiation can cause and increase in the risk of cataracts, leading to the sufferer experiencing cloudy vision, and can lead to blindness if left untreated. Other types of eye damage the sun can cause include pterygium and macular degeneration.

Skin cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, skin cancer is the UK’s fifth most common form of cancer, with over 13,000 new cases every year. Melanoma is the most serious form, with sunburns and UV exposure being particular risks. Other forms of skin cancer include Basal Cell Carcinomas and Squamous Cell Carcinomas.

Immune system damage

Scientists have found that overexposure to the sun not only can put you at risk of cancer, it can also suppress your immune system. It’s been found that whereas the body may normally mount a defence against cancers and infections, being overexposed to UV rays can significantly weaken the immune system, meaning that the skin’s ability to fight against these invaders is hampered.

The good news?

The good news is that you can almost completely prevent any of the above by taking a few simple precautions. Limiting your exposure to direct sunlight by staying in the shade and wearing loose clothing and headwear as well as sunglasses are all good positive things to do. However, the main step you should be taking is to apply good quality, high SPF sun cream. Do this and reapply regularly, and you can continue to enjoy the fun in the sun.

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